By Amlan Chakraborty
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Rishabh Pant's batting heroics in Australia were rewarded on Thursday when skipper Virat Kohli confirmed the 23-year-old will keep wicket in the opening test against England in Chennai, beginning on Friday.
India have been torn between Pant and Wriddhiman Saha, who is widely considered the better keeper but was dropped after managing only 13 runs in the opening test against Australia in Adelaide in December.
Replacing him behind the stumps, Pant produced spectacular fourth innings knocks of 97 and 89 not out in Sydney and Brisbane to help India pull off an epic 2-1 series triumph last month.
Pant "has had impact performances in Australia recently, and he's in a good space", Kohli told a video conference ahead of the series-opener at the M A Chidambaram Stadium.
"We want him to build on this, along with him improving all aspects of his game, which will happen with more game-time and more confidence he gains playing those games."
India had preferred Saha at home, where his neat glovework has been particularly effective while keeping to spinners.
Pant did spill some catches in Australia, but Kohli said he "brings in a lot of value to this team, and he will continue to be backed because he's an impact player".
"He can definitely be a very consistent match-winner for India and someone that the opposition will definitely be wary of every time they play against India."
Kohli missed the last three tests in Australia to attend the birth of his daughter, but was pleased to see how, under Ajinkya Rahane, India completed a stunning turnaround.
"We've been working for a long time to create a team identity," said Kohli, hoping to lead India to a 13th successive test series victory on home soil.
"Since I took over test captaincy in 2014, we decided we'd play to win, and draw will be our last resort," he said. "We have stuck to this, day in day out, series after series.
"Our last two series victories in Australia confirmed we're on the right track."
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Kevin Liffey)