Parthiv Patel is four years older, hopefully wiser, but the impish smile that was a trademark of the diminutive wicketkeeper when he last played Test cricket, four years ago, is still very much around.
It seems odd that someone who spent four years out of favour, and is making a
comeback, is only 23, but then Parthiv always had time on his side.
When he first made it to the Indian team, as a prodigy, it was a safe pair of gloves and the ability to fight it out at the crease that endeared Parthiv to the fans. The runs kept coming, but once his wicketkeeping began to fall apart it was a clean exit for Parthiv.
It’s ironic that Dinesh Karthik, the man Parthiv will replace, suffered a similar fate in the past at Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s hands. Unlike Parthiv, though, it was not wicketkeeping blues that forced Karthik out, but indifferent form with the bat.
Dhoni provided a safe option behind the stumps and explosive batting in front of it, and Karthik had to make way.
The chance to keep in Tests once more came Karthik’s way only when Dhoni decided he needed the rest.
Just as Karthik failed to take the opportunities with the bat when he replaced Parthiv in 2004, he has now played himself out of the Test side. With two bad games on the trot Karthik blew the chance to reinforce his position as No. 1 back-up for Dhoni, and some feel that mantle may have passed to Parthiv already.
While some might suggest he be given one last chance, the team decided it was too big a risk. Parthiv now has a chance to succeed where Karthik failed.
It will be back to the bench for Parthiv When Dhoni returns, but he has a chance to show that his early success was not a flash in the pan. Whether he cashes in on the opportunity that has come his way, or squanders it either through nerves or careless wicketkeeping, only time will tell.