Rishabh Pant now unchallenged as Dhoni's inheritor
After showing huge potential in Indian domestic cricket, Rishabh Pant exploded on the international scene in some style, When he made his international debut as a 19 year old.
After showing huge potential in Indian domestic cricket, Rishabh Pant exploded on the international scene in some style. When he made his international debut as a 19 year old in a T20 international against England in 2017, it was far from certain as to who would replace the great MS Dhoni.
Dhoni himself was still playing at the highest level in limited-overs cricket with no clear sign of a date for his retirement. Pant, along with the likes of Sanju Samson and Wriddhiman Saha, was one of several talented wicket keepers looking to inherit the gloves. Four years later there have been some shaky moments but the Delhi Capitals new captain now looks certain to hold his place for the long term.
In Rishabh Pant's first international game against England in Bengaluru, India cruised to a 75-run victory having made 202/6. With Dhoni also in the side, Pant was played as a specialist batsman but was given little chance to make an impression, facing just three balls at the end of the innings.
Ironically, as a man who built his reputation in the IPL formats, Rishabh Pant really announced his arrival in the test match arena. His debut came against England once again but this time it was as a tourist in the away series of 2018. His innings of 24 may look unremarkable but Pant announced himself by becoming the first Indian to get off the mark in test cricket with a six.
India's new wicketkeeper followed up with his first test century later in the series and he continued his sparkling form as the national side travelled to Australia later in the year. Having become the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a century in England, he doubled up with a first ton for any Indian stumper in Australia.
Pant's exchanges with Australian captain Tim Paine on the stump mic were witty and appreciated across the world and India appeared to have a new star on their hands.
When the ODI World Cup came to England in 2019, MS Dhoni was always likely to be India's first-choice wicketkeeper. Dhoni was nearing the end of his playing career but the side needed his experience and calm batting at the death if they were to challenge in English conditions.
Dhoni's selection was assured but it was a huge surprise to see Rishabh Pant left out of the initial squad. The young left-hander was expected to travel as a specialist batsman and reserve keeper but he was omitted from the original touring party. Pant was eventually called up as a replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan but these were tough times for India's new star.
At the test level, Wriddhiman Saha had joined the battle as first-choice keeper while Sanju Samson was challenging at T20i level. Rishabh Pant was under pressure but he responded in the best possible way.
Strong performances with the bat against the touring England side in 2021 have surely made him the first choice across all three formats. Meanwhile, a mature approach to captaincy with Delhi Daredevils may even have marked him down as a future Indian skipper.
Barring injury, Rishabh Pant is almost certain to be included as Indian's first choice wicket-keeper at this year's ICC T20 World Cup. As hosts, India are favorites to claim the trophy at the end of a long tournament ranging across October and November.
The key to their success will lie in explosive batting throughout the order and Pant will play a crucial part. Current betting markets for the World Cup are supplied through sbo.net their sources have India as favorites for the win. England and Australia are close behind before a gap is in place to fourth favorites New Zealand.
Expect those odds to change as more T20 cricket is played throughout the year. Sbo.net will update the market and there will be options to sign up with a range of sportsbooks listing offers and promotions.
Whatever happens to that market, India is likely to remain as favorites. They have a balanced side but that explosive batting order could lead them to victory with Rishabh Pant making his mark as one of the stars of the tournament.