The debate goes on. Who’s the better Indian wicketkeeper batsman: Rishabh Pant or Wriddhiman Saha. Dilip Doshi has the answer. The former India spinner has thrown his weight behind Saha, calling him the best wicketkeeper batsman in the country and insisted that he should be the team’s first-choice wicketkeeper. As for Pant, Doshi did not have the best of things to say.

“I was shocked to see Rishabh Pant keeping the wickets in New Zealand. I would play the best wicketkeeper in India first, and that’s Wriddhiman Saha. He has proven his mettle as a wicketkeeper-batsman as well,” Doshi told Sportstar.

“[But] wicketkeeping is such an important position that I would really not mess around with it. In the absence of Dhoni, because he has left a few years back, Wriddhi should be the best choice for India. Pant has [been] spoken about [a lot] by many critics, and I’m sure he has a future, but if I were him, I would perfect my wicketkeeping technique first before donning the India cap at the Test level.”

Weighing in on Ravindra Jadeja, Doshi called him a good all-round cricketer, but feels his bowling hasn’t improved like it should have. He figured a few years ago that with his bowling, Jadeja will move ahead but unfortunately for Doshi, his prediction regarding the allrounder hasn’t quite come true.

“Whatever the reasons, I’m not sure, it’s very difficult to judge it at this distance. I say this only because a spinner, as he continues playing, learns his craft more and more. And he develops certain attributes which he hasn’t had before. Because of the confidence Jadeja has developed, and by continuous exposure at the highest level, you have to improve, and when you don’t improve, you go back. That’s the point,” the former spinner said.

“I think he’s an outstanding cricketer overall undoubtedly. He can reach further heights by focussing on his bowling. To me, he is a bowling all-rounder, like Kapil Dev. So, if you’re a bowling all-rounder, your bowling has to keep improving. When your bowling doesn’t improve, it could actually take you backwards. So that’s where Jadeja will have to work on.”

Being a left-arm spinner himself, Doshi also examined Kuldeep Yadav’s growing ineffectiveness against quality batsman. “As far as Kuldeep is concerned, I feel he’s too slow in the air. And that’s because at the time of bowling, his non-bowling arm falls away and he opens up. Therefore, he cannot put the full bodyweight behind the delivery and these are the technical issues which I have observed before,” he said.

“That’s a problem. We start talking big before the boy even establishes in the true sense. Taking a lot of wickets in T20 doesn’t establish you, this is the futility of the whole thing. Kuldeep will have to develop a big heart and become a thinking bowler.”

Doshi sounded slightly critical of the frequent changes seen in India’s Test XI. Under Virat Kohli, the Playing XI undergoes excessive changes in its composition, a move that has not gone down well with legends such as Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble. In fact, India, at one stage, had gone 38 Test matches with 38 different team combinations and it was in Southampton in 2018 that Kohli fielded the same team in consecutive Tests.

“I do not know why there are so many changes so often. It also shows that we are not sure of what we’re doing. I do understand that the Test team and the ODI team should be quite similar. There could be one or two changes in that, but I do not see major difference in the Test team and the ODI team,” Doshi explained.

“At the T20 level, you can afford to change with three or more. But at the Test level, Rahul should have been playing. If Shikhar was fit, he should have been playing. And people like Ajinkya Rahane also have to be persisted with and many times you realise that mediocrity is always at its best because they have to keep floating. You need to decide who your top players are and persist with them. That’s what a lot of good teams have done over the years and [that’s why they have] been successful.”