A number of cricket fans and journalists have been left fuming after India seemingly bent the rules with Rishabh Pant during the third Test.
Wicketkeeper Pant was struck on the elbow during the first innings at the SCG and couldn’t take his place behind the stumps during India’s second fielding innings.
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Wriddhiman Saha, a much better keeper than Pant, donned the gloves for the second innings and ended up taking four catches, showing off his prowess in the field.
Until recent years the wicketkeeper couldn’t be replaced by a substitute fielder, however that was changed by the ICC in 2018.
The rule change allowed India to use Saha behind the stumps and get Pant some rest and treatment on his elbow.
However Aussie cricket fans were left seething on Monday when Pant came out to bat at No.5 and didn’t show any signs of injury.
Pant blazed a brilliant innings of 97 to give the tourists a very-real hope of a shock victory.
Cricket writer Peter Lalor led the criticism of India’s tactics.
“Everyone’s getting a bit anxious and I’m annoyed,” Lalor said on SEN radio as India’s chase of 407 gained momentum.
“This Rishabh Pant thing, this is just rubbish. How on earth can a bloke be not fit to wicketkeep and you just happen to have an even better wicketkeeper waiting in the cupboard?
“So the better wicketkeeper goes out there, does the job, pulls off a catch that I reckon nine times out of 10 Rishabh Pant would have dropped, and then suddenly Rishabh Pant is fit enough to bat.
“They’re basically playing with 12 players. Rubbish.
“If you can hold a bat, you can wear a pair of gloves and fumble a few balls like he does on occasion. That’s my point, I find this real ridiculous.”
Channel 9’s Michael Atkinson agreed, saying: “The way Pant is batting, he should have been made to keep yesterday. That arm doesn’t seem to be causing too much concern.
“Sorry but in Test cricket (or any multi day sporting contest) you don’t just get a day off.”
Channel 7 journalist Andrew McCormack added: "So Rishabh Pant promoted up the order and blasting them to all parts but was unable to take his place behind the stumps for all 87 overs of Australia's 2nd innings…
“No bandage on injured arm and not one sign of discomfort. Hmmm.”
The way Pant is batting, he should have been made to keep yesterday. That arm doesn’t seem to be causing too much concern #AUSvIND
— Michael Atkinson (@kinson88) January 11, 2021
Sorry but in test cricket (or any multi day sporting contest) you don’t just get a day off.
— Michael Atkinson (@kinson88) January 11, 2021
So Rishabh Pant promoted up the order and blasting them to all parts but was unable to take his place behind the stumps for all 87 overs of Australia's 2nd innings...
No bandage on injured arm and not one sign of discomfort. Hmmm #AUSvIND
— Andrew McCormack (@_AMcCormack7) January 11, 2021
Jadeja batted Chahal bowled. Now Saha keeps Pant bats. 👎
— Daniel Alexander (@daniel86cricket) January 11, 2021
@ICC Rishabh Pant was not keeping since he was injured. But now he is batting comfortably..!!
These rules needs to be looked in.
When a player didn't field for complete innings(especially wicket keeper) citing injury as reason, why should he be allowed to bat in next innings?
— Arun Suresh (@arunchithrath) January 11, 2021
India eye off historic SCG run chase
If India were to pull off the victory it would mark the highest successful chase at the SCG, and third-highest anywhere in Test history.
After enduring one of the team’s toughest matches both on and off the field for four days, India at one stage looked likely to fold quickly.
Rohit Sharma went just before stumps on day four and captain Ajinkya Rahane fell at bat pad to Nathan Lyon in the second over of Monday.
But it was then that the Pant counterpunch began.
The aggressive wicketkeeper-batsman hit three sixes and eight other boundaries in his knock, regularly taking Lyon on down the ground.
At one stage Pant hit the tweaker for one big six inside out over cover, before clearing Pat Cummins and the rope at long on the next ball.
That was one of two Lyon overs that went for 13, however the spinner finally claimed Pant’s wicket when he went for another expansive shot on 97.
Tim Paine dropped Pant on three and 56, with both balls from Lyon taking the outside edge.
The odds are still firmly stacked in the hosts’ favour, with Ravindra Jadeja only set to bat if required due to a dislocated thumb.
At least 62 overs still remain in the day.
The series is locked at 1-1 with the fourth and final Test confirmed to go ahead at the Gabba from Friday.
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