Sandeep Patil: Pant Hasn’t Performed, Let Saha Keep in T20Is Too
In the game of cricket there are certain things which are more important than others- like having a good captain, a balanced side with a very good opening pair, a strong middle order and solid bowlers.
We also always talk about the importance of good captaincy, batsmanship and bowling but we always neglect the utmost important part of a balanced side, which is to have the best available wicket-keeper.
After the introduction of limited-overs cricket, most of the time wicket-keepers are given step-brotherly treatment.
Gone are the days when the wicket keeper was as important, if not more important, than the captain of the side.
India has seen many great wicket-keepers, from Narendra Tamahane to Farokh Engineer, Syed Kirmani to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
In today’s times, the demand is always high for a utility cricketer rather than a specialized cricketer and this happens only thanks to limited-overs cricket. If you ask me, wicket-keepers do the most thankless job in the game.
India always have had great spinners and today with the admission of a number of quality fast bowlers, this current Indian team is considered as the most formidable attack in World Cricket.
We have a very good record in and out of India, but after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to take a break after the 2019 ICC World cup last summer, we still haven’t zeroed in on a wicket-keeper to replace him.
I have no objection in giving chances, giving backing and showing faith in young talents. It is no secret that it is going to be difficult to fill Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s shoes, both as captain and as a wicket-keeping batsman.
We are very well aware of the role played by Rahul Dravid as a make-shift keeper under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy. In Dhoni’s absence we have seen Parthiv Patel, Kedar Jadhav, Naman Ojha, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik and so many others donning the gloves. But even today we have not found an ideal replacement for Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
How many chances and how many more games are the selectors going to give to Rishabh Pant? And if Mahendra Singh Dhoni returns to international cricket, are we going to forget Rishabh Pant?
For me the best available and most talented wicket-keeper we have as of now is Wriddhiman Saha. There are no ifs and buts in the game of cricket, it is everyone’s duty to perform after getting the chance and to step up for the team.
Please check the records and you will find that Wriddhiman Saha is the best choice for all three formats.
Dhoni’s Uncertainty Doesn't Help
Another worry for Indian selectors now constantly is about who will bell the cat called Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
We don’t want Indian cricket to suffer because of the question mark on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s return. In my mind, Dhoni is still the best option for a keeper for India but to survive at the international level, one has to play quality cricket consistently and that is the biggest worry in Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s case.
Coach Shastri and captain Virat Kohli have both voiced their opinion about him and now it is upto the selectors to take a call- are they going to wait for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to make a comeback or will they wait for Rishabh Pant to perform or are they going to give a chance to Wridhiman Saha in formats other than just test cricket.
While Mahendra Singh Dhoni is almost in the twilight of his career, my personal favourite Wriddhiman Saha, too, is 35 years of age. But my advice to selectors is to go for the experience that the Bengal keeper will bring.
Pant is still only 22 years of age and that means age is still on his side.
However, here as well, what the Indian team management prefers will also be important. As of now, it seems that at least till the T20 World Cup later this year, Pant will be their priority.
(The Quint is now available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)