Conjecture about who will take over from Mahendra Singh Dhoni as India’s full-time wicketkeeper is rife, after the veteran right-hander was left off the Board of Control for Cricket’s latest list of centrally contracted players.
Dhoni will certainly be missed, when he eventually retires from all three formats in international cricket. Whether he has a good enough run of form for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, to justify a position in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup in India, remains to be seen.
Regardless, India are evidently already planning for a future without Dhoni, before or after the 2020 T20 World Cup. They won the inaugural title in 2008, and those looking for free cricket betting tips will know India are among the favourites to win this year’s title. Alternatively, 2010 champions or two-time title holders West Indies could win it for the third time.
Life after Dhoni, meanwhile, doesn’t look too concerning for India, considering the wealth of other wicketkeeping talent on offer, showcased by these guys.
Rahul stepped into the breach as a stopgap arrangement when Pant was concussed. What started as a short-term solution evolved into more of a full-time consideration for Virat Kohli and company. Because Rahul has been in such good form at the top of the order and in the middle, he’s effectively filling the role of two players with one. This, then, allows India to select an additional all-rounder or bowler. India probably won’t bother with this at Test level, but it’s certainly working a treat in ODI and T20I cricket.
Pant seemed liked the immediate successor when thoughts about Dhoni’s exit gradually surfaced. But he has since fallen down the pecking order, behind Rahul and Saha. Ajinkya Rahane recently implored Pant to remain patient and not get despondent despite exclusion from the XI. He will likely take this to heart and come back stronger for it. It’s a busy year for India, including the Asia Cup, T20 World Cup, IPL and several bilateral series. So Pant will get a chance again, due to injury to others or the rotation of players for rest.
Saha played in the shadow of Dhoni for several years and, now that the stalwart is on his way out, has the opportunity to emerge from being second choice to first choice. Saha is a sound glove man and pretty decent down the order with the bat, too. He has been known to open the batting in the IPL, and that could work at international level as well. There is less bravado to Saha than there is to, say, Pant, as he just gets on with the job and doesn’t necessarily need to be in the limelight for it.
Samson is a wicketkeeper-batsman, but is just as easily deployed as a specialist batter. India have used him sparingly at the start of his international career, but is still young and has a lot to give over an extended period of time. He is another, like Dhoni, who probably has to have a really good IPL campaign to command a position in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup later this year. India will be chasing a second title, and can’t spare passengers for the trip to Australia.
Bharat is on the outskirts of international selection, but certainly has the interest of the national selectors. It’ll take a lot for him to get a go ahead of Samson and Pant, but slowly but surely he is pressing his case. He was India’s injury cover of choice in early 2020, when Pant was concussed and extra resources were required during the ODI series against Australia. A few more big knocks at domestic level, and he might be able to push himself up the pecking order. The national selectors, no doubt, are keeping an eye on his progress.