Former captain Ricky Ponting raised questions about Rishabh Pant and his ability as a keeper after the 21-year-old was responsible for couple of lapses on Day 1 of the third Test between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday. Pant fumbled not once, but twice, dropping young Australia opener Will Pucovski twice in three overs. Pucovski, making his debut was batting on 26 when in the Ashwin induced an edge but Pant dropped to hold on to the catch.
Three overs later, Mohammed Siraj sent down a bouncer and Pucovski tried the pull shot, but the ball clipped his glove and went up in the air. Pant ran backwards but failed to complete the catch. After juggling the ball the first time around, Pant managed to grab on to it on the second attempt but the ball had already hit the ground by then and Pucovski was declared not out. Judging by his glovework, Ponting, who worked closely with Pant at Delhi Capitals, reckons India are lucky to have gotten Pucovski out for 62 when he could have gotten a huge score.
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“The one’s (dropped catches) today are two that should be taken, simple as that. It’s probably lucky for Rishabh that Pucovski didn’t go on and make a big hundred or a double hundred and looking at the wicket, it looks like an unbelievable surface,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
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In 14 Tests, Pant has affected 65 dismissals but at the same time his keeping is far from being a polished product. Even in the previous Test, Pant dropped Pat Cummins, also off the bowling of Ashwin. Ponting is confident that there’s a lot of work that needs to go into Pant’s keeping.
“I’m sure when Rishabh put those catches down, he would have thought the worst and ‘here we go, he’s really going to make me pay’ but (Pucovski) didn’t today,” Ponting added. “I’ve said it all along, the knock on Rishabh is always going to be on his keeping. Since his debut in Test cricket, he’s dropped more catches than any other keeper in the world. That highlights he has got some work to do with his keeping.”
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Ponting had nothing but wonderful words for the promising Pucovski. The Australia opener scored 62 and added a century partnership with Marnus Labuschagne. That Australia ended the day on 166/2 and look set to score more than 200 for the first time in the series owes a lot Pucovski’s efforts at the top.
“The thing I liked most was his composure. He looked really composed, he didn’t look overawed at all. He looked like he trusted his game, trusted his defence early on against some good fast bowling and just before the tea break started to expand his game a little bit; (he played) some nice cut shots, back-foot punches and some nice pull shots,” Ponting said.
“It’s a great start. He’ll be disappointed, no doubt, that he didn’t really cash in and make a big score. But at the same time, I think he’ll be quite content knowing he’s got a game that can stand up at Test level. We’ll all keep our fingers crossed and hope that he stays fit and healthy because he could potentially be a 10- or 12-year player for Australia.”