Waiting in the wings: Three contenders for the wicketkeeper-batsman spot in India's limited-overs teams

K. L. Rahul remains Team India’s first-choice wicketkeeper in white-ball cricket, but with three back-to-back World Cups around the corner – two World T20s and a 50-Over World Cup – here are the three primary contenders to succeed M. S. Dhoni behind the stumps in the shorter formats of the game.

Rishabh Pant is blessed with the ability to hit the ball long and hard, and has in the past given a strong account of his dynamic and refreshing style of play.   -  R. V. Moorthy

K. L. Rahul remains Team India’s first-choice wicketkeeper in white-ball cricket, but with three back-to-back World Cups around the corner – two World T20s and a 50-Over World Cup – here are the three primary contenders to succeed M. S. Dhoni behind the stumps in the shorter formats of the game.

Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant was earmarked as India’s next limited-overs wicketkeeper after Dhoni, but the southpaw has fallen out of favour with the selectors due to a dip in form. Pant’s successes in One-Day International (ODI) cricket have been sporadic, with the modes of his dismissals prompting head coach Ravi Shastri to say his shot selection had let the team down sometimes.

Pant was omitted from India’s ODI and T20 International (T20I) squads for the tour of Australia, an average 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) season, in which he scored 343 runs in 14 matches, not helping his case. That said, Pant is blessed with the ability to hit the ball long and hard, and has in the past given a strong account of his dynamic and refreshing style of play.

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Pant is also the only Indian wicketkeeper to score Test centuries in Australia and England, and was the second-highest run-scorer in IPL 2018. But the young left-hander needs to work hard on his wicketkeeping skills, and with the next T20 World Cup scheduled in India in 2021, Pant has to make sure he makes every white-ball opportunity count.

Rishabh Pant in numbers

ODIs

Matches: 16; runs: 374; highest score: 71; average: 26.71; strike rate: 103.60; fifties: 1; catches: 8; stumpings: 1

T20Is

Matches: 28; runs: 410; highest score: 65*; average: 20.50; strike rate: 121.66; fifties: 2; catches: 7; stumpings: 4

IPL

Matches: 68; runs: 2,079; highest score: 128*; average: 35.23; strike rate: 151.97; hundreds: 1; fifties: 12; catches: 46; stumpings: 11

List-A

Matches: 52; runs: 1,292; highest score: 135; average: 29.36; strike rate: 103.93; hundreds: 1; fifties: 7; catches: 51; stumpings: 11

Sanju Samson

Sanju Samson is yet another prime contender to succeed Dhoni behind the stumps. An immensely talented batsman, the 25-year-old earned his first India call-up way back in 2015, before falling off the radar. After being on the fringes of national selection for nearly five years, the Kerala batsman earned a recall for the T20Is against Sri Lanka and New Zealand earlier in 2020. However, single-digit scores in three games meant he failed to seize the opportunity.

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Samson began this year’s IPL on a high, hitting a 32-ball 74 and a 42-ball 85, but a string of low scores followed as he ended the season with 375 runs from 14 matches. His batting performances thus far have been fraught with inconsistency, resulting in just five T20I appearances.

However, Samson was picked as a backup ’keeper to Rahul for the limited-overs leg of the Australia tour. In the first two T20Is he was out for scores of 23 and 15 respectively. Whether Samson can make his latest comeback count remains to be seen.

Sanju Samson's batting performances thus far have been fraught with inconsistency, resulting in just five T20I appearances.   -  R. V. Moorthy

 

Sanju Samson in numbers

T20Is

Matches: 6; runs: 73; highest score: 23; average: 12.16; strike rate: 119.67; fifties: 0; catches: 3; stumpings: 1

IPL

Matches: 107; runs: 2,584; highest score: 102*; average: 27.78; strike rate: 133.74; hundreds: 2; fifties: 13; catches: 52; stumpings: 6

List-A

Matches: 90; runs: 2,324; highest score: 212*; average: 30.57; strike rate: 86.84; hundreds: 1; fifties: 13; catches: 96; stumpings: 12

Ishan Kishan

Ishan Kishan may not be in the national reckoning yet, but the 22-year-old made all the right noises in the IPL. A wicketkeeper and left-handed opening batsman from Jharkhand, Kishan racked up 516 runs at an average of 57.33 in IPL 2020 and was instrumental in Mumbai Indians winning a record fifth title. With a panache for stroke-making, Ishan shows why he can hold a place in any side as a batsman alone.

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With a panache for stroke-making, Ishan Kishan shows why he can hold a place in any side as a batsman alone.   -  Sportzpics / BCCI

 

Ishan Kishan in numbers

IPL

Matches: 51; runs: 1,211; highest score: 99; average: 28.83; strike rate: 136.83; fifties: 7; catches: 16; stumpings: 2

List-A

Matches: 72; runs: 2,334; highest score: 139.00; average: 36.46; strike rate: 89.49; hundreds: 3; fifties: 12; catches: 80; stumpings: 7