MS Dhoni retired from test cricket in December 2014 and did not play any ODI or T20 games for India since June 2019. The BCCI and India have found replacements for Dhoni in all three formats of the game but none of those replacements have cemented their spot in the side.
Even MS Dhoni disappeared from the ODI and T20 scene, the selectors always had him in their plans and to many he was the first choice wicket-keeper batsmen because of his experience and credentials. This is one of the reasons why the replacement wicket-keeper batsmen never really felt comfortable in their role because the looming presence of MS Dhoni was always lurking around the corner.
Now that MS Dhoni has officially retired from all formats of the game, it will be up to the selectors and the ‘replacement’ players to make the wicket-keeper batsmen position their own. We take a look at the candidates who are likely to take over this position.
Wriddhiman Saha took over the gloves from MS Dhoni in the longer format of the game and has done a pretty good. Saha is very good behind the stumps but India could certainly benefit if he made bigger contributions with the bat. Saha lost his place in the test side after he suffered an injury and took months to recover.
India tried out young R Pant in the test arena and Pant had immediate success. However, Pant’s success turned into a string of failures as the pressure of the 5 day format and the weight of playing at the highest level got the better of Pant.
Saha made his way back to the test squad and took back his position. However, Saha will turn 36 in October and does not have much time left in his test career. It will be up to the selectors to find a replacement for him. Pant is likely to get the nod once again but if he does not do justice to his opportunity, the selectors should give Sanju Samson a run at the test wicket-keeper batsmen role as he has a much better technique in the test arena.
Pant was the first choice wicket-keeper batsmen once Dhoni took a break after the 2019 ODI World Cup. However, just as he failed in the test arena, Pant also had a string of low scores in the ODI format. The Indian public were not happy with the selectors giving Pant so many chances and resorted to booking the young man when he took the field.
India decided to experiment with KL Rahul behind the stumps and so far he has done a good job. Rahul is a batsman who can keep wickets. Captain Virat Kohli prefers to have Rahul behind the stumps as it gives more balance to the squad.
R Pant also failed in the T20 arena which led to the selectors giving S Samson a few games but he did not impress. KL Rahul is once again the first choice in the T20 format as it allows Kohli to play the extra batsman or bowler, depending on the conditions.
The big question is how will KL Rahul’s wicket keeping skills hold up? and whether it will have an impact on his batting in the long run. If Rahul can keep well and perform with the bat, then he is going to be the first choice in the ODI and T20 formats.
Ex-Keepers Chip In
Former test-keeper N Mongia said that the 2020 IPL will be a chance for R Pant and S Samson to showcase their skills and make a bid to take over the gloves in the ODI and T20 format.
Deep Dasgupta said that it was going to be very difficult to replace MS Dhoni. He believes R Pant is the likely candidate to replace Dhoni and said it was important for Pant to be Pant and not try to be like MS Dhoni.