Gilchrist hopeful of Pant getting a good run
Rishabh Pant needs to be given a longer rope, feels Adam Gilchrist (Getty Images)

Rishabh Pant may be just three Tests old but has the backing of former Australia wicketkeeper batsman Adam Gilchrist to be in India reckoning for the long haul. Ever since the retirement of MS Dhoni in early 2015, India’s wicketkeeping duties have been performed by Wriddhiman Saha, following his shoulder injury which has ruled him out at least four months, the slot is up for grabs.

India tried Dinesh Karthik for the first two Tests, before replacing him with Pant. The 20-year old wicketkeeper so far has scores of 24, 1, 0, 18 and 5 in five Test innings, and held on to seven catches during the third Test at Trent Bridge. Gilchrist feels India need to persist with Pant to give him more confidence in his abilities.

“It may take some chopping and changing, but if you churn through players too quickly, it can leave a psychological scar on their minds,” Gilchrist told ESPNcricinfo. “And that can limit their efforts in producing their best. So hopefully Pant gets a nice run with the Test side.

“It’s like when Shane Warne finished, it left such a big hole in the team because of the quality of player and person that Shane was. And it was the same in India when the big batting four departed. So they’re not easy gaps to fill, and Dhoni’s been as good as any in the keeper-batsman category.”

As the England tour gets ready to wind up, India’s next real test is the tour of Australia where they play four Tests. Both India and Australia have a promising pace attack and Gilchrist believes the battle will a competitive one between the pacers of both sides. India’s attack has shown a tendency to pick up 20 wickets, while Australia will be bolstered by a returning Mitchell Starc, who will likely be partnered by the pace duo of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

“In England, they’ve shown the potential to rip through the batting line-up,” Gilchrist said. “And they’re all fit, strong and aggressive young men so those are all the virtues you need to take on Australia in Australia.

“And from an Australian perspective, we have (Mitchell) Starc, backed up by Pat Cummins, who is outstanding, and (Josh) Hazlewood is almost (Glenn) McGrath like with his methodic repetitious bowling, so there’s three guys there, and there are a couple in the wings as well. As the series goes on, we’re going to find out who has the better pace attack, and that is going to be the most intriguing part of the series.”

Despite a quality pace attack, Australia’s batting line-up will miss the services of Steve Smith and David Warner, currently serving a 12-month ban. Gilchrist reckons that while it’s a setback, the scenario is also ideal for the youngsters to step up and produce a case for their inclusion in the side.

“It’s a big setback to lose your highest run-scorers for a few years, to lose two people who have scored a high percentage of your runs, so that’s going to be the challenge for our guys against India,” Gilchrist said.

“It’s a great opportunity for a few people, to come in and fill the void, but they’re big shoes to fill and that will have a big impact on the series. The big challenge for Australia will be to get the runs that their pacers and Nathan Lyon can defend.”