Who will replace MS Dhoni?Big shoes to step up and fill in.
“Dhoni finishes off in style, India win the world cup after 28 years”, those were the exact words after the legend hit the final nail in the coffin – a six, playing a crucial knock of 91*, in the World Cup 2011 final. MS Dhoni, probably the best Indian wicketkeeper, the best stumper of the cricket ball, and one of the best wicketkeeping minds in modern-day cricket, announced his retirement on 15th August, just before the inauguration of the 2020 edition of the IPL. Having played his last match in the semi-final of the World Cup 2019, the veteran decided to walk away leaving behind a strong legacy. Many hearts were left broken and it was an unbearable loss for Team India.
However, this opened the gate of opportunities for many more young Indian prospects. Rishabh Pant was in contention as the first choice for the wicketkeeping spot and to say the least, it’s been sort of an interesting journey. He’s got a handful of chances, both in India and overseas. Since his debut, he was never clear with his approach to pace his innings. The media was no less, along with the fans, they always kept him under the radar to put all the blame on him. He did silly schoolboy errors while keeping which added up to his two minded batting, resulting in him losing his Team India spot across formats.
But team India’s tour of Australia tour in 2020 has been tremendous for him, as this became a tour of redemption for him. He played a few game-changing innings for India and has never looked back since then. He also had an impressive home test series against England. After a decent T20I series, he played a couple of vital knocks against England in the ODI series and played a huge role in the series win.
Amid this scenario, the team also found a ray of hope in the form of KL Rahul, who kept wickets in the absence of Rishabh Pant, who got injured in the first innings against Australia in the first ODI, at Wankhede, earlier last year. Since then, KL has been superb and very handy to the team and the captain. He lets the management play a pure extra batsman and has arguably been one of the best batsmen for team India in the last one and a half years.
KL Rahul was also the player of the series in the historic 5-0 T20I series clean sweep against the Kiwis in their own backyard, scoring a whopping 224 runs in five matches. He seems to have solidified his spot in the team, and it became obvious after the management made him the Vice-Captain of the limited-overs side, in the absence of regular vice-captain Rohit Sharma, which played in Australia.
India has a long list of wicketkeepers who can perform at the highest level waiting for their opportunities. Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan are the biggest names that will be talked about for years after being the hotshots of every IPL and domestic season. Their skills are next to none and have consistently shown that by playing jaw-dropping knocks in almost every IPL season. Both Ishan and Sanju have been picked for the series in Sri Lanka and the selectors certainly will have a keen eye on them.
With all that being said, Indian cricket does have its future protected when it comes to talented wicket-keeping batsmen. Though it’ll take time to fill the big man’s shoes, the future does look bright and each one of them has what it takes to be the best in the world. This is an area where quality steps over quantity and, luckily for us, India doesn’t lack in either of them.