If he gets selected, it will be one of the more bold decisions made by the Indian team in recent years. India are 2-0 down in the Test series with all batsmen, apart captain Virat Kohli, looking at sea against the moving ball.
Pant, 20, has played just four T20 Internationals and 23 first-class matches. Fielding him in England with the series on the line will be a brave move.
Here we look at five instances when Indian selectors and management blooded in a youngster in the Test team.
SACHIN TENDULKAR v PAKISTAN 1989
One of the boldest decisions taken in contemporary cricket. A 16-year-old Sachin was handed his Test cap in, off all places, Pakistan. One of the most talented teenagers ever seen, it was still a monumental challenge in Karachi against a Pakistan side that had Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Abdul Qadir and a debutant in Waqar Younis.
He made a fifty in the second Test, proved his technique and temperament and went on to become one of the greatest cricketers of all time with 100 international centuries.
PARTHIV PATEL v ENGLAND 2002
Baby-faced Parthiv drew compassionate looks rather than fearful glances when he made his debut in England. Patel, 17, was not the best keeper in the country but was known to be a fearless batsmen. His courage was called upon in his first Test itself as he had to bat out 60 balls in the second innings on the final day with the team eight wickets down in Nottingham to earn a draw.
However, indifferent wicketkeeping forced India to look elsewhere. And they soon found an all-time great in MS Dhoni.
ISHANT SHARMA v AUSTRALIA 2008
The Delhi pacer, then 18, had already played two Tests with decent returns, so was on the selectors’ radar. During the tour Down Under in 2007-08, Ishant was drafted in the side after Zaheer Khan’s injury for the second Test in Sydney – better known for the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal – and made an impact. He didn’t pick up a wicket but troubled all batsmen with his late seam and steep bounce.
His spell in the Perth against Ricky Ponting raised his profile immeasurably and Ishant went on to become one of the longest-serving fast bowlers in Indian cricket with 245 scalps from 84 Tests.
KULDEEP YADAV v AUSTRALIA 2017
With the series tied 1-1, India entered the final Test of the Border Gavaskar series in Dharamsala without captain Virat Kohli, who missed the match due to injury. Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane took the decision to go in one batsman short and picked left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav. That proved to be the match and series-winning decision as Kuldeep picked four first innings wickets.
Now, the 23-year-old has become one of the best white-ball spinners in the world.
JASPRIT BUMRAH v SOUTH AFRICA 2018
This one came out of the blue. Bumrah had become the top bowler for India in white-ball cricket but was seen as a limited overs specialist. However, his sustained pace and accuracy led to a selection for the South Africa tour earlier in the year. There he bowled with such venom in the nets that the management had to pick him for the three Test series.
Bumrah produced some of the most hostile spells of fast bowling by an Indian pacer and was instrumental in keeping the team in with a chance every match. He finished with 14 wickets from three Tests.
Indian cricket icons paid tribute to former captain Ajit Wadekar – who led the country to their first series win in England and the West Indies – following his death at the age of 77.
“He will always be remembered as the ‘renaissance man’ of Indian cricket,” BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri said after it was announced that Wadekar passed away in a Mumbai hospital following prolonged illness.
Wadekar scored 2,113 runs in 37 Test matches, including one century.
Wadekar was also first captain of India’s ODI and he later on became coach, manager and chairman of Indian selectors.
Legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Azharuddin and Anil Kumble paid tribute to Wadekar’s influence on Indian cricket.
“He was someone who was instrumental in bringing out the best in us during the 90s. We’ll always be grateful for his advice and guidance,” said Tendulkar.
Azharuddin excelled as India’s captain from 1993 to 1996 under Wadekar’s guidance.
Azharuddin said that Wadekar had been “iconic” and a “father figure for me …. May his soul rest in peace.”
Kumble, who made his comeback to the Indian team in a 1992-93 tour of South Africa, said that Wadekar “was more than a coach to the entire team – a father figure and a shrewd tactician”. “Thank you Sir for the confidence shown in my ability!” Kumble added.
Virat Kohli hailed Wadekar as a “legendary”, tweeting: “India and its millions will always remember you fondly.”
Joe Root’s side has been far superior with the bat and ball while the Indian batsmen, barring Virat Kohli, have struggled to adapt to English conditions.
That is no surprise considering the tourists only played one warm-up game (a game that was shortened to three days on India’s request) with the red ball against Essex last month.
Their poor displays saw ex-India skipper Sunil Gavaskar criticise the BCCI for not scheduling more practice red-ball games in the build-up for a crucial England series.
Following his comments, we look back at every tour since 2002 and how many practice games India played and whether it made any positive impact in the England Test series’.
India had no shortage of match practice on their tour of England 16 years ago with the BCCI arranging five first-class warm-up matches to prepare for the four-match Test series in July. A West Indies’ ‘A’ side featuring a young Chris Gayle saw the Indians draw the three-day match before the tourists got their first and only win before the Test series in the 66-run triumph against Hampshire.
A few days later, Sachin Tendulkar hit 169 in a rain-hit drawn clash against Worcestershire while Virender Sehwag (142) and Harbhajan Singh (7-83) repeated the result against Essex. Sehwag added another ton in their final warm-up against Derbyshire.
Those matches as well as their ODI tri-series against England and Sri Lanka saw India fare well when five-day action began in late July. Despite losing by 170 runs in the first Test, Sehwag (106) and Rahul Dravid (115) salvaged a draw at Trent Bridge. Tendulkar’s superb 193 sealed an innings victory to level the series before Rahul Dravid’s 217 meant the fourth and final Test ended in a draw.
WARM UP MATCHES (RED-BALL): FIVE, WON: 1, DRAW: 4, LOST: 0
FOUR-MATCH TEST SERIES: DREW 1-1
With the likes of Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Dravid and Anil Kumble, India had plenty of experience in their squad. Three warm-up games were scheduled against Sussex, England Lions and Sri Lanka ‘A’ – all of which ended in a draw. Laxman, Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir and Dravid made an instant impact with half-centuries while Kumble took three scalps against Sussex. Facing an England Lions side which featured Stuart Broad, Tendulkar (171), MS Dhoni (76) and Yuvraj Singh (59) fared well with the bat while Dravid’s 67 in between the second and third Test saw the Indians draw against Sri Lanka ‘A’.
When the first Test came around in July, India’s preparations paid off. After drawing the Lord’s Test, they came out seven-wicket winners at Trent Bridge – enough to win the series.
WARM-UP MATCHES: THREE, WON: 3, DRAW: 3, LOST: 0
THREE-MATCH TEST SERIES: WON 1-0
Like 2018, the Indians had one warm-up game before the first Test but surprisingly the management left out key players MS Dhoni, Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh for the game. Suresh Raina managed to get a century against a Somerset side which featured England opener Andrew Strauss. While that game ended in a draw, the lack of preparation was there to see with India losing the first two Tests by 196 and 319 runs respectively. Even a two-day game against Northamptonshire didn’t do them any good as they were beaten by an innings in their next two Tests.
WARM-UP MATCHES: TWO, WON: 0, DRAW: 2, LOST: 0
FOUR-MATCH TEST SERIES: LOST 4-0
It was the first time the Indians played a five-match Test series in England since 1959 with the BCCI only lining up two warm-up games. Both were held within a week ahead of the opening game at Trent Bridge. Against Leicestershire, Shikhar Dhawan scored an unbeaten 60 in the draw with Ishant taking 2-64. Facing Derbyshire, Cheteshwar Pujara and Stuart Binny hit identical scores of 81 as the tourists went into the series on the back of a five-wicket win. But against England, although India took a 1-0 lead in the second Test, Alastair Cook’s side bounced back to win the remaining three games.
WARM-UP MATCHES: TWO, WON: 1, DRAW: 1, LOST: 0
FIVE-MATCH TEST SERIES: LOST 3-1