Parthiv Patel belongs to a generation of Indian wicket-keepers including Dinesh Karthik and Wriddhiman Saha, who were eclipsed by the legend of MS Dhoni. When Parthiv made his test debut at Trent Bridge against England in 2002, he was just 17 years old.
His sporadic career encompasses a long and eventful span of 15 years.
Now he has been picked as a backup keeper for Wriddhiman Saha for the South Africa tour. Last year, he had made a comeback after eight long years in the Indian test side for the third Test against England. His grit and perseverance have compelled the selectors to hand him a national call-up again. His meritorious comebacks have put him the same league as Ashish Nehra and Yuvraj Singh.
The Gujarat captain has proved over time that like the Joker in the pack of cards, he can fit in anywhere in the batting line up. He used to bat lower down the order in his initial days. Then, he made the shift of batting at number four for his Ranji side. When he received a surprise call for the third test against England, he batted both in the middle order and opened the innings for India.
“I’ve opened in limited overs and T20. I learnt to bat anywhere, from opening to middle-order, as the team needed. In fact, most wicket-keepers are used to batting at any position. The team expects that,” said Patel confidently.
Parthiv Patel’s career points at one thing – never make the mistake of considering him a pushover. And there lies the message for Wriddhiman Saha. Saha may be the one with the best glove work in the country at the moment, but he must remember the adage, “Hard work defeats talent when talent does not work hard.”
Keeping the upcoming string of foreign tours in mind, Patel is a good bet not only to keep Saha on his toes but potentially replace the Bengal keeper in the side.
Having been thrown in the choppy waters of International cricket at a very young age, he has fallen and learnt to stand up by himself.
After he was dropped from the national side, he went back to first-class cricket and did the bulk of scoring for his side.
At 32 years of age, he has captained the Gujarat team for a decade now. He has scored more than 10,000 runs in first-class cricket at a healthy average close to 45. His vast experience belies his baby-faced appearance
Being a batsman of short stature, Parthiv Patel feeds off the pull and hook shot. India is scheduled to face bouncy pitches as they tour South Africa, Australia and England in the near future, and he fits perfectly in this bracket.
He regularly opens the batting in the IPL and has faced some of the quickest bowlers over the years. He will thus have no trouble facing the likes of Rabada and Morris, who have both pace and bounce.
Gone are the days when Patel was tagged as a player who had a game only against short pitch bowling. In the recent years, he has improved his game by leaps and bounds. Through exposure in IPL as an opening batsman, he has learnt to loft the half volleys over the infield.
In his comeback match against England in 2017, he played drives seamlessly. He also has vastly improved his game against spin bowling. He had always been good at using the crease to bring out his late cuts and back foot punches.
Now he has also begun to dance down the pitch to spinners to put them off their length. These additions have helped him become a complete player.
The only thing that goes against the Gujarat keeper and batsman, is that he is a little shoddy behind the wickets. He is already a team man and a batsman who provides the batting order flexibility. If he can improve his glove work a bit, he will certainly become a captain’s delight.