Will Rishabh Pant maintain the dominance in the Wicket-Keeping department for India?

We Indians have always been comparing our legends with the players that take their place in the early stages of their career, which shouldn’t be the case. A player with an immense caliber like Rishabh Pant, who took the Indian Wicket-Keeper place in the XI after the legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni suddenly retired from International cricket on 15th August 2020. Since then and even before that, a lot of questions were raised on Pant’s inclusion & the approach he comes onto the crease with. 

The point here is that no one should have that kind of pressure at the start of their career. This pressure seriously affected Pant in the initial stages of his career. He started trying to defend the ball first & then get into an offensive mode like Dhoni used to do. This style did not sync with his approach and he started throwing away his wicket after defending for a while. For this, Pant had to face a lot of hate both on social media & even in real life. 

He was also dropped from white-ball cricket for a pretty long time until when he backed up his strengths and came back pretty strongly in the 5-day format of the game against Australia earlier this year. His innings at Brisbane and in the entire series where he turned around games into India’s favor within 30 mins, brought out the best in him. The confidence in his stance and body language helped him play fearlessly against the best of the bowlers leaving a mark in the selector’s minds for the white ball shorter formats too. 

Coming back to the topic if Pant can fill in Dhoni’s shoes, these two are very different kinds of players, and to compare them, we will first have to bring them on the same level. 

Rishabh Pant has broken several records since his debut in 2017 

– Fastest wicket-keeper to 1000 test runs (27 innings)

– Most Dismissals in a test match (11)

– Most Catches in a match (11)

– 300 runs & 15 Wicket-keeping dismissals in a series 

Apart from these, in his short career of 4 years, he has surpassed many players. Pant is also compared to the Australian legend Adam Gilchrist because of his approach while batting.

From being trolled for his wicket-keeping to having the maximum dismissals in a single match, Rishabh Pant has come a long way. He worked on his weaknesses day-in and day-out & the world could see the difference in the way he kept wickets first in Australia where there was uneven bounce and a lot of swing, then in a different situation in India where the ball was spinning & turning and sometimes wasn’t even carrying. 

No doubt Dhoni has been the best in business for India for a very long time, Rishabh is now the next best thing. He has shown why he was chosen over Ishan Kishan or Wriddhiman Saha or even the talented Sanju Samson. The youngster has a very sharp cricketing mind & a different style which has proved to be effective for him and the team so far.

Here’s what the former Cricketers have to say 

Former England Captain David Gower

“Pant has impressed me. He has extreme confidence. He was superb. He is full of confidence at the moment because things are going his way. What he does, he has been an extraordinary talent. He’s aggressive. The simplest example is the one of him reverse sweeping Jimmy Anderson off the new bowl in Ahmedabad. He has super confidence which is working very well for him at the moment. In Australia, he was under immense pressure and was able to deliver. And, that was a match-winning knock in Brisbane.”

Former English Cricketer Ryan Sidebottom 

‘Not Dhoni, he is more Gilchrist’

“Being a left-hander, he is more of a Gilchrist type of player. Not Dhoni. He is quite chirpy. He is the sort of player who gets the team going. He gets under the skin of the batsman, and that’s what you want from your keeper. He’s also matured as a cricketer. He’s got criticism, but he’s come back stronger. He’s one of those players who can come out & sort of change the game all of a sudden within minutes. As he did against England & Australia.”  

Stats so far 

ODI’S

Pant18 matches529 runs29.40 average
Dhoni18 matches518 runs28.78 average

TEST

Pant37 innings  1487 runs40.20 average
Dhoni37 innings1174 runs31.73 average

These stats so far indicate Rishabh Pant as a better player, but the Era’s were different and a lot more went down in MS Dhoni’s later career. Therefore, it is not the right time to compare these two players. 

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