Rishabh Pant, India Test wicket-keeper, may still be the understudy to MS Dhoni in India’s white-ball sides, but there is reason to believe he is firmly in his country’s Men’s Cricket World Cup plans.
Though highly rated for a long time, Pant first truly found fame through the IPL, with his innovative and belligerent ball-striking giving some reason to believe he might be a fixture in India’s limited-overs sides for years to come.
Pant is yet to set the world alight in international white-ball cricket, but has enjoyed a stunning start to his Test career, averaging just under 50 in his first nine Tests, and scoring two hundreds in England and Australia, making him the first Indian wicket-keeper to score more than one century outside of Asia. Some have compared his potential to that of Adam Gilchrist, who is rated by many as the best in his role Test cricket has ever seen.
The incumbent, former captain MS Dhoni, needs little introduction, and his legacy as one of the best glovemen in the history of ODI cricket is secure. But there has been some suggestion recently that age has caught up with him, and that he is now unable to score at the pace required in the modern game.
He remains India’s No.1, and his status was underlined by the fact that he was recalled to India’s T20I side to face New Zealand, having been left out of the squad to face Australia, and by the fact that Pant, his main competitor to take the gauntlets, has been left out of the squad to face Australia in ODIs. He will instead return home to play for India A, who take on England Lions in a five-match one-day series, before rejoining India for the first leg of their New Zealand tour.
Some may have feared that with the Cricket World Cup just around the corner, India’s precocious talent was being edged out. But India’s chief selector MSK Prasad says he remains very much in India’s thoughts, and that his exclusion is simply due to “workload management”.
“There is absolutely no doubt that he is among one of those wicketkeepers (in contention for the World Cup). All the three shortlisted keepers are doing well. He is definitely part of our World Cup plans. It’s a part of the workload management we are following,” Prasad told India Today.
“You have seen how many players we are resting these days. This kid has played the T20s and the four high-intensity Tests. The body also takes a wear and tear. He is having a few niggles, he needs to recover. I am sure he will come back much stronger.”
The ODI series against Australia begins on Saturday, 12 January at Sydney.
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