Can Rishabh Pant fit in MS Dhoni’s shoes for team India?

The position of a wicketkeeper is an important one. Most wicket keepers are also good batsmen who contribute heavily in both innings of the game. However, the combination of a good wicket keeper and batsman is not easy to find. Team India was lucky to have found MS Dhoni, who took on this role and much more as the skipper for almost a couple of decades. But ever since MSD hung up his gloves in 2019, the quest for his replacement has seen the captain and coaches running around in circles.

Results matter! No matter how hard the effort, if the stats don’t tell a good story, it’s difficult to stick around in the game of cricket for long. Going by match stats, one which tells a great promising story about Rishabh Pant, he seems to be a likely contender to fit in MS Dhoni’s shoes.

Test Cricket One Day T20i IPL
Matches Played 25 18 33 79
Stumping 8 1 5 14
Catches 89 9 9 53
Runouts 1 0 1 5
Runs Scored 1549 529 512 2390
Batting Average 39.7 33.1 21.3 35.7

The player stats quite clearly make him the frontrunner. With an average of one stumping every 3-4 matches in Test Cricket, T20i, and IPL, and an average of over one catch per match in every game played so far, Rishabh Pant’s stats tell an impressive story. Coupled with a batting average of about 33 – 39 runs per match in the middle order, he is certainly someone who can back up Team India in a difficult situation.

Although the stats seem impressive, there is an apparent skew in the numbers. His performance in the Tests and T20 format is way better as compared to ODIs. This might be an important factor when it comes to the player selection on the selectors’ minds. However, a fewer number of ODI matches played, as compared to Test and T20 formats, could be a cause for this.

The Doubts 

Recent injury on the field required Rishabh Pant to take a break which has affected his form. On the other side, contenders like KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, and Sanju Samson, who have displayed impressive talent have got an opportunity to fill the void. Platforms like IPL provide the player’s ample opportunities to prove their talent and hone their skills throughout the year.

Injuries are bad! They not only keep the player off the field but also affect fitness levels, practice routines, and overall form. It takes immense effort and determination to return to full form after an injury. However, veterans like Ashish Nehra and Sanjay Bangar have faith in Rishabh Pant’s abilities and have openly backed him for the central role of wicketkeeper-batsman for Team India.

Going Forward

Who gets selected as the wicketkeeper of Team India for the long haul is a tricky question. Quite unlike the old days, cricket has become increasingly competitive over the years. The selectors now have multiple options when it comes to a position in the Team. Rishabh Pant has caught the eyes of a few as a plausible replacement for MS Dhoni. But who finally takes the cap and dons the blue jersey is anyone’s guess right now.

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