Dodgy India move infuriates Aussies
Questions are being asked about India's use of wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant as he threatened to steal the New Year's Test from Australia on Monday.
During India's first innings at the SCG, Pant was struck in the arm by a short delivery from Australian paceman Pat Cummins.
The 23-year-old was consulted by a medic before continuing through gritted teeth, eventually dismissed by Josh Hazlewood for 36.
However, Pant was taken for scans on Saturday and did not don the gloves for India during Australia's second innings.
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Substitute wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha - who is widely regarded as a significantly better gloveman - replaced him in the field and claimed four catches, including a superb grab to remove Australian No. 3 Marnus Labuschagne.
Earlier in the Test, Pant dropped two regulation catches to give Australia debutant Will Pucovski two extra lives at the crease.
Although he was unable to perform his duties as a wicketkeeper, Pant was promoted up the order and walked out to bat at No. 5 for India on day five.
The explosive left-hander hammered a quick-fire 97 to bring the tourists back into the contest, which at one stage seemed almost impossible.
It was an amazing knock that left fans in awe of Pant's spectacular strokeplay on a wearing pitch.
Veteran cricket reporter Peter Lalor was less than impressed with the situation, accusing the Indians of manipulating the laws of the game to field "12 players".
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"Everyone's getting a bit anxious, and I'm annoyed," Lalor said on SEN. "This Rishabh Pant thing, this is just rubbish.
"You can sort of motor along with your eyes closed in cricket a little bit and be unaware of regulations and rules and things.
"How on earth can a bloke be not fit to wicket keep and you just happen to have an even better wicketkeeper waiting in the cupboard?
"So the better wicketkeeper goes out there, does the job, pulls off a catch that I reckon nine times out of 10 Rishabh Pant would have dropped, and then suddenly Rishabh Pant is fit enough to bat.
"They're basically playing with 12 players. Rubbish.
"If you can hold a bat, you can wear a pair of gloves and fumble a few balls like he does on occasion.
"That's my point, I find this really ridiculous."
Channel 9 sports reporter Michael Atkinson agreed: "The way Pant is batting, he should have been made to keep yesterday. That arm doesn't seem to be causing too much concern.
"Sorry but in Test cricket (or any multi day sporting contest) you don't just get a day off."
Channel 7 journalist Andrew McCormack added: "So Rishabh Pant promoted up the order and blasting them to all parts but was unable to take his place behind the stumps for all 87 overs of Australia's 2nd innings …
"No bandage on injured arm and not one sign of discomfort. Hmmm."
Between 1980 and 2017, substitute fielders were not permitted to keep wickets in the case of an injury, but the MCC changed the contentious law four years ago.
Pant was eventually dismissed by Australian tweaker Nathan Lyon in the afternoon session, falling agonisingly short of a third Test century.
He had combined with Indian stalwart Chesteshwar Pujara for a game-changing 148-run partnership.
INDIA'S LARGEST FOURTH-WICKET PARTNERSHIPS IN THE FOURTH INNINGS
RR Pant, CA Pujara - 148 vs AUS (2021)
VS Hazare, RS Modi - 139 vs WI (1949)
DB Vengsarkar, Y Sharma - 122 vs PAK (1979)
GR Viswanath, AL Wadekar - 120* vs AUS (1969)
Originally published as Dodgy Indian move infuriates Aussies