A massive Rishabh Pant meme wave stormed the internet after Team India wicketkeeper KS Bharat dropped a regulation catch in the first session of play on Day 1 of the fourth Test between India and Australia in Ahmedabad on Thursday.


Since Rishabh Pant suffered a near-fatal accident on December 30, KS Bharat has taken his spot in the playing XI in the Test series against Australia. However, his poor performances, both with the bat and behind the wickets, have raised eyebrows daily.

After putting up a string of below-par scores with the bat in Nagpur, Delhi, and Indore and displaying his struggles against spinners while keeping the wickets, Bharat again disappointed his teammates this morning. He dropped an easy catch to give Australian opener Travis Head a lifeline on the opening day of the final Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Gujarat.

KS Bharat’s effort on the field also earned him scathing remarks from a battery of former cricketers, including former India head coach Ravi Shastri, 1983 World Cup winner Sunil Gavaskar, veteran Dinesh Karthik and ex-Australia opener Matthew Hayden, all of whom blasted him for dropping a sitter.

“It’s as easy as they come. Of course in Test cricket no catch is easy. But have a look at this. Just fishing for the ball outside off stump. IN and it goes down,” Sunil Gavaskar said on air.

“He just got his hands in the wrong position. He got done and then he didn’t make the adjustment. It’s almost like a stubbornness in his thinking knowing that the ball should always be here. But it wasn’t,” Matthew Hayden added.

“That drop catch. A real sitter put down. A straightforward chance,” Ravi Shastri pointed out.

“You get the feeling that he is slightly nervous. Hands were lower than where the ball was. The one thing that you have to say is that the ball is wobbling. Doing more than what he thinks. The hands were slightly lower than where they should have been. Harder as well; tells me he is nervous at this point of time,” Dinesh Karthik opined.

Fortunately for KS Bharat and the Indian Cricket Team, the dropped catch did not prove too costly as premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Travis Head for a score of 32 an hour later.

Australia ended Day 1 on top, thanks to a fighting century from Usman Khawaja, who remained unbeaten on 104 off 251 deliveries.

At stumps, Australians were 255/4, very much in control of the proceedings against the hosts, who won the first two Tests relatively comfortably before suffering a shock loss in the third game in Indore.

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An ecstatic Usman Khawaja said he was proud of his knock in Ahmedabad.

“It was a lot of emotion in that. I have been to India on two tours before this and carried drinks in eight Test matches. It was such a nice wicket,” Usman Khawaja told Star Sports after the close of the day’s play.

“I just didn’t want to give my wicket away. It was a mental battle more than anything. You need to put your ego away. I had the helmet in my right hand, I told him (Green) just me a hug, instead of a high five (following his century). I have no superstitions, I stretched a bit in the morning and I was ready to go,” the Australian opener added.

Meanwhile, former Australia captain Ian Chappell said that the Rohit Sharma-led side has failed to find a chink in Usman Khawaja’s batting which they could use to their advantage.

“I think the calmness of Khawaja has been exemplary in this series. One thing I can’t understand is India’s desire to come around the wicket at all times to a left-hander. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. All the good left-handers I have spoken to have said the right arm over the wicket is the toughest line to face. Ok, now for every now then for a change you can bowl around the wicket. It works well in England but in India, it is ridiculous. Particularly to a player like Khawaja, whose great strength is his on-side. We saw that today. Why would you angle the ball into his pads, when that’s exactly what he wants,” Ian Chappell said on ESPNcricinfo.

“The other thing about Khawaja is, he looked at ease at all times. India to me, haven’t come up with a solution to Khawaja’s batting and it is really starting to hurt them,” he argued.

Coming back to Rishabh Pant, the explosive left-hander is widely regarded as the best wicketkeeper-batter in Tests. He has scored 2169 runs in 54 innings in the whites, including five centuries and ten half-centuries. He has a stunning strike rate of 73.10 and averages 43.48 in the five-day format.

In December, he powered India to a 2-0 whitewash of Bangladesh in the Test series in the neighboring country. In the process, Rishabh Pant joined a select band of Indian wicketkeepers, including former captain MS Dhoni to complete 4,000 runs in international cricket.

However, a life-threatening car crash Rishabh Pant suffered in Uttarakhand two and a half months ago put an abrupt break on his career. According to a prominent cricket website and former India captain Sourav Ganguly, he would miss the entire 2023 season.

The report said that Rishabh Pant will certainly not be available for the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the World Test Championship final in June.

All three ligaments in Rishabh Pant’s knee suffered damage in the accident.  Two of those ligaments have already been reconstructed after surgeries at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital in Mumbai.

As a result, Rishabh Pant will remain sidelined for at least six months, throwing his selection for the ODI World Cup in October-November in limbo.

Recently, ex-India skipper Sourav Ganguly dropped a major update about Rishabh Pant’s health, hinting the 25-year-old could have a long hiatus from the sport, possibly lasting more than a year.

“I spoke to him a couple of times. Obviously he is going through a tough period, through injuries and surgeries and I wish him well. In a year’s time or may be in a couple of years’ time, he will be back playing for India,” Sourav Ganguly said in an interaction with the news agency PTI.