Ever since MS Dhoni’s retirement, India have been searching for a solid wicketkeeper who can contribute heavily with the bat. However, while Rishabh Pant has nailed his spot in the Test cricket, he still is trying to find his feet in white-ball cricket.
Moreover, MS Dhoni’s absence has left a big hole in the Indian lower order, and Men in Blue are searching for a finisher. India have been trying to groom Hardik Pandya in a finisher’s role, but he needs some support from the other end as well.
With the T20 World Cup lined up later this year, IPL 2022 provided a fantastic platform for the wicketkeeper-batters to nail down a spot on the Indian side with some consistent performances. At the moment, there are four players, including Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Ishan Kishan, and Sanju Samson, who are battling for the spot. Three of them are currently representing India in the T20I series against South Africa, while Sanju Samson is slated to feature on the Ireland tour.
Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik are currently ahead of their competition for the wicketkeeper’s role, but we will analyse who should get a chance to represent India in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
The left-handed batter, undoubtedly, is India’s first-choice wicketkeeper in Tests and ODIs at the moment. However, he hasn’t been able to replicate his performances in the T20I arena. Pant has scored 740 runs in 47 T20I games at a strike rate of 124.16.
Rishabh Pant hadn’t had the best of the runs in the IPL 2022 as well. The Delhi Capitals skipper has managed 340 runs in 14 matches with the highest score of 44. Also, the left-handed southpaw batted at number four for Delhi Capitals; hence, these numbers aren’t great by any means.
Moreover, his form with the bat has worsened in the international arena. Pant has only scored 57 runs in 4 matches in the ongoing T20I series against South Africa at a strike rate of 105.55.
The 36-year-old batter from Tamil Nadu is a player reborn. Dinesh Karthik has re-invented himself into a 360-degree player and a finisher after batting in the same position for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the recently-concluded edition of the IPL. He amassed 330 runs in 16 matches at a mind-boggling strike rate of 183.33.
Dinesh Karthik mounted his comeback to the national side after impressing everyone in the IPL and he has continued his form in the South Africa T20I series as well. The veteran wicketkeeper-batter has scored 92 runs in 4 matches at a strike rate of 158.62, including a match-winning fifty in the 4th T20I at Rajkot.
DK has displayed impeccable finishing skills so far, and he has put his name ahead for the finisher’s position in the Indian team with his consistent performances.
The left-handed batter has been with India’s squad for a while now. The youngster has the potential to play explosive knocks at the top, but he had a disappointing IPL season for Mumbai Indians. Ishan Kishan scored 418 runs in 14 matches at a low strike rate of 120.11.
However, the selectors kept faith in him and picked him for the South Africa T20I series. The left-handed batter has returned to the form after scoring 191 runs in 4 matches at a strike rate of 146.92, including two fifties.
Consistently inconsistent, Sanju Samson surprises everyone with his ability to make the batting effortless. However, he then leaves everyone scratching their head with poor shot selections. Why a player like Sanju Samson is not consistent remains one of the biggest cricketing mysteries.
In the IPL 2022, Sanju Samson kept blowing hot and cold and returned with 458 runs in 17 matches at a strike rate of 146.79. It was a decent showing overall but the Rajasthan Royals’ skipper was guilty of throwing his wicket away quite a few times.
Sanju Samson has now been selected for the Ireland T20Is and he would have to stay consistent to put a strong foot forward towards the Indian squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
As things stand, Ishan Kishan looks out of the wicketkeepers’ contention in the Indian team. A massive factor is working against him at the moment – his batting position. The team management is preparing Ishan Kishan as the backup opener and India are likely to open with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma in the T20 World Cup. While Kishan is likely to board the flight to Australia, he might not find a place in the playing 11.
On the other hand, Sanju Samson has got numerous opportunities on the international level in his career. However, the problems persist with the right-hander as he remains inconsistent as per his reputation. India can’t risk with such an inconsistent batter in such a big tournament.
In all probability, Rishabh Pant will board the flight to Australia. India have a slot empty at number five as KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Suryakumar Yadav are likely to form the top four for the Team India. Rishabh Pant might not find a place at number five either with Hardik Pandya fully fit and smashing the ball again. Furthermore, Rishabh hasn’t been the best of the finishers so far, and his strike rate in the T20I is a testimony to that.
In such a case, Dinesh Karthik has made the strongest case for himself as he could provide some serious finishing impetus for India in the death. Moreover, DK is a 360-degree player who can handle the pace and spin bowling with equal ease.
With Hardik Pandya at five, DK at six, and Ravindra Jadeja at seven, India will have some serious firepower in the lower-middle order.
After analysing all the angles, we conclude that Dinesh Karthik should play as the wicketkeeper for India, with Rishabh Pant as his backup option in the squad.