Parthiv should keep in one-dayers also: Kirmani
India's chief selector Syed Kirmani says his panel is unanimous that teenager Parthiv Patel should keep wickets in one-dayers but a final decision would depend on the team management.
"I suppose Parthiv Patel is showing good signs he can keep wickets and play in one-dayers also," Kirmani, in Pakistan to watch the second India-Pakistan Test at Lahore, told IANS in an interview.
"He has shown a lot of character in the Test despite an injury. He has exhibited his grit," said Kirmani, referring to the 19-year-old's unbeaten 62 in the second innings in the team's nine-wicket defeat.
Kirmani, who scalped 198 batsmen in 88 Tests, said a specialist wicketkeeper for limited overs was a must.
"But it's again a matter of what the team management thinks about it. According to me, he (Parthiv) should be playing both one-dayers as well as Tests as he is definitely better than Rahul Dravid," he said.
Kirmani, however, said the selection of the playing eleven is the prerogative of the team management.
"We give our views but it is the team management that decides who plays. Again, the opinions differ," he said. "But if the management is not confident about Parthiv, they are the best judges. They are going to face the music in the middle."
Dravid is made to keep wickets in one-dayers to strengthen the batting or bowling department.
"If you want an extra batsman that means that you don't believe in the six other batsmen on top, you don't believe in your abilities," said Kirmani, who played for India from 1975-76 to 1985-86.
So is it a defensive strategy to play seven batsmen in the eleven?
"The statistics are talked about. Okay, the statistics are there but for how long?" asked Kirmani, who also played 49 one-day internationals.
"In the TVS Cup, we lost two one-dayers because of Dravid's keeping. It was very evident, and they (team management) agreed on it."
He added: "Still, you went back to Rahul in the next game. Parthiv did a brilliant stumping of Matthew Hayden in Gwalior and turned the match in our favour. I insisted on Parthiv to keep when (Sourav) Ganguly was injured."
The dapper former wicketkeeper, who played a key role in India's World Cup triumph in 1983, said the five selectors are unanimous on the issue.
"Yes, of course, we have a similar kind of view. We have a good understanding within ourselves and it's in the interest of the team," he said.
"Of course, to start with, he was inducted too early and now we have to persist with him and he's showing a lot of promise and improvement," said Kirmani of the Gujarat stumper's induction on the 2002 tour of England.
But once Parthiv has been retained, said Kirmani, everyone should boost his confidence.
"The important thing is extracting the best from a player by instilling confidence in him," he said, pointing out that wicketkeeping is the most important aspect of the game.
Talking about the openers, Kirmani lauded Akash Chopra's performance in the previous tour of Australia and said that he and Virender Sehwag were doing well in Tests.
He also said Sadagopan Ramesh is the next best choice to replace any one of them if and when needed.
"I thought we had good openers in Akash Chopra and Sadagopan Ramesh and definitely Chopra did very well in Australia as he gave good starts," he said.
"Now you have two solid openers. You've got Sadagopan as a backup, just in case...And there are many other openers in the frame. We have got a good bench, who could replace them any time," he noted.
On the lack of a quality all-rounder in the team, Kirmani said that Irfan Pathan and Lakshmipathy Balaji were shaping up well to grab that spot, while Ajit Agarkar put up a disappointing performance at Lahore.
"Irfan is already equipped with that ability and so is Balaji, who has to spend more time on his batting. He has shown that he can have big hits and good technique. All he has to do is to practice and be consistent," he said.
The Bangalore-based Kirmani is happy with the team's overall performance on the Pakistan tour, but he was baffled by the sudden capitulation at Lahore after the innings-and-52-run win in the first Test at Multan.
"I don't know what I should attribute it to," he said. "The final Test match is the pinnacle (of the series). I think it could be the Test match of the year. It will see the highest peak of performance from both teams."
The third Test begins at Rawalpindi Tuesday.