The debate about when MS Dhoni should hang up his boots is getting big with each passing day. While many claim that Dhoni should retire now so that India have enough time to prepare a wicket-keeper batsman for the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup 2019, it should be up to the 37-year-old cricketer to decide when to say goodbye to international cricket.
Dhoni is one of the finest cricketers India has ever produced, and he is also among one of the most successful Indian captains. He has been the number one choice for wicket-keeper since 2005. Donning the gloves behind the stumps for India, he is faster than light stumpings, his flying catches behind the stumps are still a treat to watch. But should MS Dhoni be retained in the Indian side only because of wicket-keeping?
For the first time, India’s World Cup winning skipper MS Dhoni was booed by fans at the ‘home of cricket’ Lord’s. Veteran Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar even compared his own infamous 36-run innings to MS Dhoni’s performance at the Lord’s.
Legendary English cricketer Patsy Hendren had once said: “One should retire when he is good enough to play on, and people should ask ‘why now, and not why not now'”. So, has the time come already? Even if he doesn’t hang up his boots now, and plays till next year’s World Cup, the 37-year-old wicket-keeper batsman definitely doesn’t have too much time left to be on the field.
So, who will fit into the gloves of the illustrious keeper if he actually decides to resign? While finding a worthy replacement will be a tough task for the selectors, here is a list of five batsmen who can fill the vacuum to some extent.
Young Delhi batsman Rishabh Pant is our first pick. Pant is young and can be the next big thing in Indian cricket as predicted by many. The 20-year-old Delhi cricketer is arguably the most talented batsman in domestic cricket and Pant’s wicketkeeping skills make him the perfect choice for the spot behind the stumps. Pant’s name started doing the rounds after ICC Under 19 cricket World Cup, and he has also been a regular batsman in India ‘A’ team for the past two years.
And now Rishabh Pant has also been called for the Indian Test side for the tour of England. Pant was also the highest run-getter for Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2018.
Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik, who created a buzz after his heroics in the finals of 2018 Nidahas Trophy, can also keep the wickets for India. Karthik had a stellar campaign as KKR captain in the recently concluded season of Indian Premier League and he is also pretty good with gloves.
Karthik’s performance in IPL earned him a call from both India’s ODI and Test squads against England. Though Karthik was not extraordinary with the bat in the ODI series, he would still get a chance to prove himself in the upcoming Test series.
KL Rahul is another wicket-keeper batsman, who can replace MS Dhoni in the limited overs game. Rahul had kept wickets for Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore and for Kings Xi Punjab in the Indian Premier League, and had done a pretty great job.
Rahul is also a regular feature in the Indian squad in all formats of the game (Test, ODI, T20Is). Rahul was the third highest run-getter for KXIP in the 11th season of IPL, scoring 650 runs for his franchise.
Australian cricket legend Shane Warne had called Sanju Samson the next superstar of Indian cricket. The Kerala wicket-keeper batsman Sanju is our next pick for MS Dhoni’s replacement.
Sanju Samson is the youngest Indian player to score 1000 runs in Indian Premier League. Samson is also the youngest player to captain a (Kerala) Ranji team.
Samson is a consistent performer with the bat and he has also been good with the gloves. Samson was even called in India ‘A’ squad for England tour but after failing the yo-yo Test he was replaced.
Ishan Kishan was the first choice as a wicket-keeper for the three-time Indian Premier League champions in the 11th season of IPL.
Other Rishabh Pant, Kishan was another batsman, who made the headline for his hard-hitting batting style in ICC Under 19 World Cup.