There was a time in the game when wicketkeepers were expected to be excellent behind the stumps. And any contribution from them with the bat was seen as a bonus. However, the arrival of the eccentric Adam Gilchrist, followed by India’s dashing MS Dhoni, changed the rules of the game.
In T20s, especially in the IPL, glovemen are expected to be excellent in front of the stumps. In such a scenario, their keeping skills are acceptable even if they are average.
Over the years, many wicketkeeper-batsmen have proved to be match-winners with the bat in the IPL.
Five keeper-batsman who could set IPL 2021 on fire
The lineup for IPL 2021 comprises some highly destructive keeper-batsmen. They can not only knock the cover off the ball but can turn matches on their head with their incredible batting.
On that note, let's look at the five best wicketkeeper-batsmen in IPL 2021.
#1 Rishabh Pant
When Rishabh Pant turned out for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2020, he was trolled massively for looking unfit. He had put on weight during the lockdown and didn't look match fit.
It wasn’t surprising that his results were below par. He scored 343 runs in 14 games at a strike rate of 113.95.
Pant never looked in any sort of rhythm either in front or behind the stumps. He only headed to Australia as the backup wicketkeeper for the Test matches. But, what a massive difference a few months can make!
The 23-year-old returns to the IPL as the Delhi Capitals captain in the absence of the injured Shreyas Iyer. More significantly, he will come in with his reputation, having undergone a complete makeover.
Pant was sensational with the bat Down Under. While he impressed with the willow at home against England, it was the amazing improvement in his wicketkeeping on turning tracks that took everyone by surprise.
There will be plenty of expectations when the flamboyant left-hander steps out to bat in IPL 2021. He always had the talent. But with success behind him, Pant could be all the more dangerous. Expect a few reverse scoops against fast bowlers and one-handed lofts for sixes!
#2 Jos Buttler
One of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball, Jos Buttler, has been pivotal to the Rajasthan Royals’ success with the bat, just like Jofra Archer has been with the ball.
The Englishman had a below-par IPL season last year. He managed 328 runs in 13 matches, although his strike rate of 144.49 was impressive. The results reflected in the team's standing in the IPL points table, where they finished last.
At his best, Buttler is one of the most destructive batsmen in the T20 format. And the IPL has seen him play some amazing knocks. In the 2018 season, Buttler equalled Virender Sehwag’s record of five consecutive fifties in the T20 league.
IPL 2018 has been his best edition to date, as he amassed 548 runs at a strike rate of 151.7. RR will hope for more of the same from Buttler this season.
Buttler’s methods may be unorthodox, but his numbers do not lie. And that’s what matters. The best part about Buttler’s batting is that when he is in a murderous mood, he ends up playing match-winning knocks more often than not.
#3 Quinton de Kock
Currently in the eye of a storm over the controversial run-out of Fakhar Zaman, Quinton de Kock has been excellent for Mumbai Indians at the top of the order in the last few IPL seasons.
Even in the presence of established names in the MI batting lineup, De Kock has managed to make his mark, which speaks volumes of his prowess with the willow.
De Kock hammered 529 runs for the franchise in IPL 2019; he was their leading run-getter as MI clinched the IPL crown for a record fourth time. In IPL 2020, he scored 500 runs again, registering four fifties as MI won back-to-back IPL titles.
The left-hander is very good at getting his team off to flying starts, which allows captain Rohit Sharma to settle into a rhythm.
Often, he can get a quick 30 or 40 to set the wheels in motion. And on days when luck is with him, he converts those into cracking 70s and 80s.
In a team brimming with bludgeoning big-hitters, De Kock provides some aesthetic relief at a very acceptable speed. He has a career strike rate of 133.53 in the IPL.
#4 Nicholas Pooran
Everybody is aware of West Windies wicketkeeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran’s savage hitting ability. However, many were still left awestruck by the power the left-hander managed to generate in his strokes in IPL 2020.
Pooran gave Punjab Kings some reason to cheer with his destructive batting last season. In 14 games, he hammered 353 runs at a strike rate of nearly 170. No wonder he is often compared to the legendary West Indian Chris Gayle, whose big-hitting prowess is next to none.
Last season, Pooran blasted 77 off 37 balls in a total of 132 against SRH. It was an incredible display of stroke-play as the 25-year-old smashed seven sixes. It was an innings that did not deserve to end up on the losing side, but, unfortunately, it did.
When in full flow, Pooran is a treat to watch. This season, while Punjab Kings will want him to continue delivering his blistering knocks, they will also hope for a turnaround in their fortunes.
#5 Ishan Kishan
With Quinton de Kock taking the gloves behind the stumps, Ishan Kishan has been focusing solely on his batting in the last few IPL seasons. And what an excellent job he has been doing for the franchise!
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In IPL 2020, he was MI’s top run-getter with 516 runs in 14 games. Kishan displayed his flexibility and maturity by moving up the order when captain Rohit Sharma was injured. He took up the responsibility on his young shoulders and passed with flying colours.
The 22-year-old’s 99 off 58 last season against RCB was one of the best knocks ever seen in an IPL chase. Even though it came in a losing cause, as RCB won the game in an IPL Super Over, that knock gave Kishan immense self-belief. He has been a different player since then.
Confidence in his own ability has been one of Kishan’s biggest strengths in his career so far. That enabled him to play the aggressor on his T20I debut against England. His fluent half-century allowed Indian captain Virat Kohli to play himself in and rediscover his form.