It would be unfair to scapegoat former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for India’s recent loss to New Zealand in the Rajkot T20. But the likes of VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar, who have urged the Jharkhand man to give chance to youngsters in T20 cricket, might not be a far cry after all.
MS might be the cleanest hitter of the ball on his day but there’s no denying the fact that he has lost the ability to smash bowlers day in, day out. He still probably has the best glovework around but he turns 37 next July and that doesn’t help.
T20 cricket requires a specialist at number 6 and given Virat Kohli’s policy of assigning specific responsibilities to different players means that Dhoni’s ouster from the shortest format wouldn’t be a surprise. And here’s a bunch of young wicketkeeping batsmen who could fill in those huge shoes.
The 20-year-old from Uttarakhand made everyone stand up and take notice during the previous Under 19 World Cup. Since then he has gone on to impress in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and has even featured in Rahul Dravid’s India A side recently. More consistency and refined work behind the stumps could see him donning the national colours.
The same Ranji match in which Pant made his presence known, his counterpart from Jharkhand responded with an equally sizzling half-century at a near-150 strike rate. India’s last Under-19 skipper, the left-hander is enjoying a great Ranji season with three 50s in four matches so far. His explosive batting could come in handy even in the top order.
Another young wicket keeper from the north Indian region, Bains has alsoput in some exceptional performances in first-class cricket but has failed to replicate the same in List A and T20 cricket. The Himachal Pradesh lad is amongst the runs in the ongoing Ranji season and at 20, has plenty of time on his hands to make amends in limited overs cricket too.
Scoring a triple hundred is no joke (though we express sincere sympathies with Karun Nair who has been demoted to Ranji cricket after becoming only the second Indian batsman to do so. Srikar Bharat, the 24-year-old from Andhra, had done it a few seasons back and has earned a call up from various IPL franchises over the years. But the stage could just be set for him to make it big now.
Last but not the least, Lokesh Rahul has to be one of the most talented batsmen in India to look out for (dare we say), in the same manner as Virat Kohli. What many people don’t know about him is that he started his career as a wicket keeper in junior cricket and in many recent interviews has expressed the will to excel in that department on the international platform as well. The only question would be his finishing ability. But given his rapid growth for the Men in Blue, one can expect the unexpected from the Karnataka chap.