ICC World Cup 2019: Who will be India's Backup Wicket-Keeper?
In just a few months from now, the home of cricket ‘England’ will proudly host the Olympics of cricket, the ICC World Cup 2019. On this very occasion, the top 10 ICC ranked teams will compete against each other for the most prestigious trophy in the world. As always, the event promises to be every cricket fan’s delight.
While no team can be taken for granted at the event including the minnows Afghanistan, Team India has been titled as ‘hot favorites’ for the tournament by cricket experts. If their recent performances are anything to go by, the Men in Blue appear prepared for the big challenge.
By the looks of things, everything seems to be in place however they are experiencing an interesting situation – a problem of plenty! Almost for every position, the team management has a few decent replacements. This abundance of talent is thanks to the excellent work done by the selectors, the coach Ravi Shastri, Virat Kohli and by India A and U-19 coach Rahul Dravid over the past few years. The collaboration has worked perfectly for Indian cricket and has enabled to create an excellent pool of talented players.
What’s important now is that selectors wisely choose the most suitable players for the prestigious event. Though most of the players select themselves based on their excellent performances, it is now about strengthening the team even further and preparing for last minute setbacks by adding replacements for key slots.
One such very important slot is the Wicket-keeper's position. Beyond any doubt, MS Dhoni is the most preferred wicket-keeper and is expected to play every single game in the tournament. Considering the long tournament and his recent hamstring injury, the team management will consider the 2nd wicket-keeper option.
Many might consider Ambati Rayudu to be an ideal contender considering the fact that while he will be in the squad for the No.4 slot, he could also double up as a wicket-keeper if need be but the very important aspect is that he is just a part-time wicket-keeper. The wicket-keeper is a specialist position unlike any other position on the field. Therefore, not anyone can simply step up to perform the job.
Long time back, when Rahul Dravid took over the responsibility of wearing the gloves for the sake of team balance, India missed out on some important catches and stumping opportunities. Team India would certainly not want to repeat history. In an important tournament like the ICC World Cup, you need specialists to do their job efficiently to win games.
Another option, Indian fans are pondering these days is Rishabh Pant. The very talented, 21-year-old player has thoroughly impressed everyone with his aggressive batting. And, though he is a specialist wicket-keeper, he is extremely new to the International circuit (9 Tests, 3 ODIs, 13 T20Is) and lacks the experience needed for the high-intensity tournament. Therefore, despite being touted to be MS Dhoni’s successor already, he may have to wait for a while for his turn.
The only player that appears ideal for the second-option wicket-keeper is Dinesh Karthik. Though, he has not kept wickets at the international level often due to obvious reason (MS Dhoni), he has done an excellent job as a dedicated wicket-keeper for the Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2018.
In addition, he has been with the team for a very long time and possesses the experience one needs at events of such magnitude. Also, by choosing him over anyone else, it will allow the selectors to have the luxury to look at other much needed suitable replacements for other key spots – 3rd opener, No.4 slot, 4th fast bowler, 2nd fast bowling all-rounder, and 3rd spinner.
Having said that, the Indian cricket fans will hope to see Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the top of his game, most probably for the very last time and guide Team India to yet another World Cup win!