In a big boost prior to Team India's five-match Test series against England beginning in August, wicketkeeper batter Rishabh Pant has recovered from COVID-19 and is set to join the rest of the team in Durham on July 21. Notably, Pant had contracted the infection while the team was on a break after the Men in Blue's defeat in the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
It was also informed that yet another playing member of the squad had contracted the infection amid rising cases in the United Kingdom but had recovered by the time the news broke out. Pant's recovery will give him enough time to get back to training mode prior to the opening Test match beginning on August 4 at Trent Bridge. Despite recovering from Coronavirus, Pant is set to miss the team's warm-up match against County Select XI at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street to be played from July 20.
KL Rahul likely to don wicketkeeping gloves in warm-up game
While Pant wasn't available for the warm-up game due to COVID, backup keeper Wriddhiman Saha has also been sent into isolation after being deemed a close contact of yet another COVID-19 positive member. This has raised big question marks over the wicketkeepers' slot in the practice match. With both the designated keepers unavailable, KL Rahul is likely to wear the keeping gloves for this contest. Although he has kept wickets for India in limited-overs cricket, he has never donned the wicketkeeping gloves for India in a red-ball game.
Coming back to Pant, the youngster was criticised for not following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour in the UK ahead of an important series. In fact, the southpaw shared a picture of himself watching a football match at the crowded Wembley Stadium without wearing a mask or socially distancing himself. Despite the criticism, he received the backing of BCCI President Sourav Ganguly who said that it is not possible to wear a mask all the time.
"We have seen Euro Championship and Wimbledon in England. Rules have changed (with crowd being allowed inside venues). They were on leave and it's physically impossible to wear a mask all the time," Ganguly had told News 18.
Pant, who was the star of India's Test series win Down Under, is expected to play a big role in the England Tests.