Who should be India's wicket-keeper in ODI cricket?
Rishabh Pant still has to prove himself [Source: Associated Press]
Team India have a number of issues to deal with in the 50-over format. They are still unsure about their middle order and lack quality spinners who can take wickets at regular intervals.
But there is another problem that looms large. It is a problem which the Indian side has failed to deal with, and it is a problem which can cause problem in the near future as well. Yes, I am talking about the wicket-keeping issue.
When MS Dhoni was still around, there was a sense of calmness that he provided (as a batter). But ever-since he has retired, India have struggled to find a proper replacement. In Test matches surely Rishabh Pant is irreplaceable, but when it comes to the white-ball format, he is yet to justify his immense talent.
But with the road to 2023 World Cup officially started, we'll only focus on ODIs at the moment. So let us analyse the potential 3 candidates who will most likely fight it out for a place in the Indian World Cup squad.
The curious case of Rishabh Pant. The boy is a star in the Test format, but has failed to found his footing in the limited overs. Pant showed his batting prowess when the talented southpaw smashed a match-winning century against England in England recently. But barring that, there is no significant knock that shows that Pant belongs to this stage (at-least in white-ball cricket).
However, India needs an X factor, and Pant is that player for the Men in Blue. You never know what to expect from him. One day he can torment you for fun, the other day he can get torment by the bowlers. Too many chopping and changing in the batting order hasn't helped hi cause either.
Stats in ODIs: 29 matches, 855 runs, average 35.62
A naturally gifted batter with immense potential, Sanju Samson still hasn't got the opportunity that he actually deserves. Whenever you watch Samson play, you realise what kind of a talent Indian cricket is wasting at the moment. He can open, he can be a middle order player, he can be an anchor, and he can be an aggressive batter as well.
But talent is not the only parameter when it comes to Indian selection. Believe it or not, but luck plays an equal part and Samson hasn't been that lucky. He has got limited opportunities, and to be honest the dashing batter hasn't grabbed them with both hands.
Maybe he needs a long run, maybe then Samson can really show what he's made of. But as of now, he is still behind Rishabh Pant in the race.
Stats in ODIs: 11 matches, 330 runs, average 66.00
Another talented cricketer who has failed to justify his place in the national side. If you need quick runs at the top, call Ishan Kishan. But for some reason, the southpaw has looked a pale shadow of what he offers in the domestic circuit.
He started on a positive note in the ODIs. Kishan slammed a quick-fire 59 against Sri Lanka last year, and announced his arrival in some style. But things quickly went downhill as he never really got the opportunity at the top (mainly because of Rohit-KL Rahul partnership at top).
He is still way below in the pecking order, so don't be surprised if Kishan is ignored for the World Cup 2023 squad.
Stats in ODIs: 9 matches, 267 runs, average 33.37