Parthiv Patel back in India Test team

More than eight years after his previous Test match, and four years after his last international, wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel has earned a recall to India's Test team

Arun Venugopal
More than eight years after his previous Test match, and four years after his last international, wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel has earned a recall to India's Test team. At 17 years and 153 days, he became Test cricket's youngest wicketkeeper in 2002; now he will be the second-oldest member in the XI if no other change is made to the side that took field in Visakhapatnam.
Parthiv came in because of an injury to first-choice keeper Wriddhiman Saha, who strained his left thigh during the second Test against England in Visakhapatnam. He will not play the third Test to avoid aggravating the injury.
The announcement came about 15 hours after the India squad had been announced with only one change. Gautam Gambhir had been dropped with Bhuvneshwar Kumar's return bolstering the pace department.
In a release, the BCCI said: "As a precautionary measure, Saha has been advised rest and will not play in the next Test match of the series. Parthiv Patel will replace Saha in the Indian team for the third Test." The match is set to be played from November 26 in Mohali.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Parthiv, 31, was ahead of other candidates to fill Saha's role because he offers the option of a left-hand batsman. Also, it is understood that the selectors felt it was too early to hand a debut to the 19-year-old Rishabh Pant, who has hit a triple-hundred for Delhi this Ranji Trophy season and smashed a 48-ball ton in a game in which he scored twin centuries.
The other big contender was Madhya Pradesh's Naman Ojha, who played the last Test that Saha missed. Ojha missed the start of the Ranji Trophy with injury. However, he did play MP's last match.
Tamil Nadu's Dinesh Karthik, who has also had a good recent run with the bat, is believed to have lost to Parthiv because of the latter's better glove work and the left-hand batting variation.
Parthiv, who last played Test cricket in August 2008, also had a fine start to the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy with the bat for Gujarat. He scored 415 runs in his first eight innings at 59.28, with three fifties and a hundred. The century came in the previous round of games, in Gujarat's second innings against MP. It was a brisk, unbeaten knock: 139 not out off 170 balls.
"Parthiv was considered going by form and also the wicketkeeping aspect. More importantly, being a left-hand bat - England have a legspinner and a left-arm spinner in Adil Rashid and Zafar Ansari. So, a left-hander will add more to the team," a BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo.
"Naman had some injuries; he didn't play in the first three-four matches of the Ranji Trophy this year. As far as keeping is concerned as well, Parthiv stands ahead of Dinesh Karthik. Overall, as a package, he fits the team's requirements. There is no doubt that Parthiv's glove work has improved considerably in the last few years. Not sure which position he will bat in; it is up to the team now."
Parthiv debuted in England in 2002, and has played 20 Tests till date for 41 catches, eight stumpings and 683 runs at 29.69 with a best of 69.

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun