Former cricketer Robin Uthappa believes that the injured Rishabh Pant will be definitely a big miss for India during the Test series against Australia, saying that the wicket-keeper batter is an exceptional player and proven match-winner.
Pant, who miraculously survived a horrific car crash on December 30, has torn all three key ligaments in his right knee, two of which were reconstructed recently during the surgery which happened on January 6 while the reconstruction of the third torn ligament is expected after six weeks.
As a result, the 25-year-old is in danger of being sidelined from the game for at least six months, which can potentially affect his chances of being fit and available for selection for the Border Gavaskar Test series, IPL 2023 and even the ODI World Cup.
"I think he would definitely be a big miss during the Australia Test series because he is an exceptional Test cricketer -- one of the best going around at the moment.
He absorbs pressure so well in the middle overs and assesses and plays the situations. He is able to play his natural game, express himself and produce match-winning performances," Robin, who is representing Dubai Capitals at the ILT20, told IANS in an interview.
The 37-year-old Uthappa highlighted Pant's impressive achievements in a short Test career. "If you see, Pant has scored five Test centuries so far and has gotten out in the 90s six times in 30-odd Test matches.
If he had converted those 90s to 100s, he would have 11 centuries, which is outstanding," he said. "So, I think he's a phenomenal Test cricketer and it's a matter of time before he leads the Indian Test team," he added.
Indian selectors have picked two wicket-keepers -- Ishan Kishan and K.S. Bharat -- for the Australia Tests in absence of Pant. Asked about who should get first preference, Uthappa said," I think K.S. Bharat should get the first chance because he's been in the squad for a much longer time as the reserve wicket-keeper.
The fact that he has maintained his performance to keep his spot in the side, he should get the first nod." The four-match Border-Gavaskar series starts with Nagpur Test on February 9, with both teams eyeing spots in the final of the World Test Championship.