With his match-winning knock in Brisbane Test, Rishabh Pant has silenced his critics and proved that why he is touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket. Despite his impressive show with the bat on Australia tour, the southpaw is still facing some criticism over his wicketkeeping abilities.

Veteran wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha has backed Pant to improve his skills behind the stumps as he thinks that the southpaw has always proved himself.

Saha lost his place in the playing XI during Australia Tests to Pant after an underwhelming performance in the Day-Night Test in Adelaide. Pant grabbed the opportunity and played scintillating knocks in Sydney and Brisbane.

The veteran glovesman opened up on his relationship with Pant and said there is no conflict with the 23-year-old.

“You can ask him (Pant), we have a friendly relationship and help each other whoever gets into the XI. Personally, there’s no conflict with him,” Saha told PTI in an interview after returning home from the historic Test series win in Australia.

However, Saha said he will continue to strive for excellence, leaving the selection headache to the team management.

“I don’t see who is No 1 or 2… Team will give a chance to those who does better. I will continue to do my job. Selection is not in my hands, it’s up to the management.”

Saha said like no one learns algebra in class I same Pant will improve as wicketkeeper gradually

“No one learns algebra in class I. You always go step by step. He is giving his best and will definitely improve. He has always matured and proved himself. In the long run, it augurs well for the Indian team, he said of Pant who was often found wanting behind the stumps.

“The way he has shown his intent after being sidelined from his favourite T20/ODI formats was really exceptional.”

Since the Brisbane show, Pant’s comparison with the legendary Mahendra Singh Dhoni has only grown but Saha said: “Dhoni will remain Dhoni and everyone has his own identity”.

On getting dropped from the playing XI after Adelaide Test, Saha said anyone can go through a bad phase and he will continue to improve his skills.

“Anyone can go through a bad phase. A professional player always accepts the highs and lows, be it with form or criticism,” the 36-year-old said.

“I was unable to score runs that’s why Pant got the chance. It’s as simple as that. I always focused on improving my skills and never gave a thought to my career, even when I started playing cricket. It’s the same approach now,” he said.

He said the series win was “no less than a World Cup triumph” because of the way the team bounced back from 36 all out in Adelaide and an considering the inexperience of many players.

“Even though I did not play (in three matches), I enjoyed every moment of it.

“We faced challenges in putting up XI players, so it was an outstanding feat, an outstanding team effort. Definitely, it will be one of our greatest series wins.”

Saha said India may not have known the outstanding depth in their reserve bench had they not faced the crisis situation of several players injuring themselves, apart from captain Virat Kohli leaving after the first Test on paternity leave.

“It was about instilling self-belief and going session by session. The series win last time also played in our minds,” Saha said.

Saha further talks about Ajinkya Rahane’s captaincy approach and claims he never shows any excitement like Virat Kohli.

Saha feels stand-by captain Ajinkya Rahane’s success mantra was staying calm even in the toughest situations.

“He goes about his job with a cool head. Like Virat, he too has full of belief in his players. Unlike Virat, he never shows any excitement.

“Approach is a bit different, Rahane stays calm always, never loses temper. He knows well how to motivate the players. That is his success mantra.”