first_imgAfter Mahendra Singh Dhoni retired from Test cricket, none of the wicketkeepers in the country have been clear favourites to take up the role. Barring Wriddhiman Saha, acknowledged as the best wicketkeeper-batsman talent available, who was an obvious choice but he too couldn’t consider himself as a regular. Indian cricket is ruthless and if there are a few lapses in couple of games, there are others waiting in the queue to take your place. Saha, so far has done well at the Test level both with the bat and behind the stumps. However, being ruled out of the Mohali Test against England due to an injury has given the long forgotten Parthiv Patel a chance to make a comeback after a gap of eight years.  Parthiv’s inclusion has surprised everyone and the move of the selectors is being criticised. Were the selectors right in bringing back Parthiv with other young wicketkeepers waiting in the wings? Definitely, names like Naman Ojha who is recovering from an injury, Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson would have come up during the discussion, but Parthiv’s experience would have worked in his favour. Moreover, in a big series like this with India leading 1-0, selectors and the think-tank would not have risked someone young or inexperienced. Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble also may have wanted someone who could be solid with his glovework and can as well contribute with the bat. So, Parthiv’s inclusion makes sense!  Parthiv made his international debut in 2002 at Trent Bridge under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy, when he was only 17 years and 153 days old to become Test cricket’s youngest wicketkeeper. He got an extended run at the international level because of his batting ability but his shoddy wicketkeeping saw him getting dropped in 2004.advertisementParthiv Patel behind the stumps during his debut series against England in 2002. (Reuters Photo) Once Dhoni became a permanent for India across all the formats, Parthiv’s stake of making a comeback started to look bleak. There were brief comebacks for him but went down in the pecking order with the emergence of Saha, Ojha and Dinesh Karthik. Parthiv last played in a Test match in August 2008 against Sri Lanka in Colombo, when Dhoni pulled out to rest and since then India have played 83 Tests. Parthiv’s perseverance is now paying off as he decided to go through the grind of domestic cricket, where he made an effort to improve his game. (Have to remind people I am only 31, says Parthiv following India comeback) Now being a domestic veteran playing for Gujarat in 162 matches and scoring 9409 runs, which includes 24 hundreds, 52 fifties at an average of 43.76. Parthiv’s diminutive figure could be misleading but with the bat he is a serious stroke player and from 2015 onwards he has racked up runs in all the formats of the game. The 2015 IPL started for him quite quietly but as the tournament progressed he scored 339 runs to finish as fourth leading scorer in Mumbai Indians’ victorious campaign. He didn’t stop there and later in the year, he scored his first List-A hundred leading Gujarat to their maiden Vijay Hazare Trophy title. The rich vein of form continued for Parthiv as he went on to slam four fifties in the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy and then a century against India A in the Deodhar Trophy.Anil Kumble was captain in Parthiv Patel’s last Test match in 2008. (Reuters Photo) Runs continued to flow from Parthiv’s bat as he began the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season by scoring three half-centuries and one hundred from his first five matches. And this should explain the reason behind his surprise call-up to the Indian team after a gap of eight years. The Gujarat captain will also be aware of the fact that he will soon be out of the team once a fit-again Saha returns for the fourth and fifth Tests in Mumbai and Chennai. But Parthiv should be looking to take the Mohali Test as a chance for redemption and put his best foot forward – be it batting or behind the stumps. Parthiv also would not take much time to warm up to Kohli’s style of captaincy having made his debut under Ganguly. Added to that Kumble’s presence will be comforting having earlier shared the dressing room with him and time spent at Mumbai Indians. As always, comebacks are always tough and the onus will be on Parthiv to make it count.Most Tests missed between two consecutive appearances for India (Stats by Rajneesh Gupta): Tests missed Player Period Span 83 Parthiv Patel 8 years 105 days Aug 2008-Nov 2016 49 Piyush Chawla 4 years 242 days Apr 2008-Dec 2012 43 Parthiv Patel 3 years 282 days Oct 2004-Aug 2008 40 Arun Lal 4 years 32 days Jan 1983-Feb 1987 37 Anshuman Gaekwad 3 years 198 days Aug 1979-Feb 1983advertisementlast_img