Rishabh Pant best man to replace legend MS Dhoni, says Vijay Dahiya

  • 1

The hunt for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s successor has begun and the dynamic wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant is perhaps on top of the contenders’ list to replace the 2011 World Cup winning captain.
Dhoni announced his retirement from Tests during the Australia tour in 2014 and since then selectors have been looking for the legend’s long term replacement. In the absence of Wriddhiman Saha, who is recuperating from a shoulder injury, Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik were given chances but the duo failed to grab the opportunities with both hands.
Former India wicket-keeper Vijay Dahiya feels the 21-year-old Pant is perhaps the perfect option to take over wicketkeeping duties from Dhoni.
“The way the Indian team is playing right now, they are looking for a wicket-keeper who is an all-rounder. Parthiv Patel has given his bit, Dinesh Karthik has been given chances many times, but the way Rishabh Pant has grabbed the opportunities in Tests, it stands out,” Dahiya told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
“Pant bats like a match-winner,” he said.
Pant, who was handed his Test cap by captain Virat Kohli ahead of the third Test against England at Trent Bridge in Nottingham in August earlier this year, has played 5 Tests so far and scored 346 runs at an average of 43.25.
The hard-hitting wicket-keeper batsman has one century and two fifties to his name. He also missed out on centuries twice when he was dismissed for 92 runs against the West Indies in both the first and second Tests at home.
“We have got an excellent option in Pant. With every international outing, he is going to be better and better. He is phenomenal. The more he plays, the better he becomes. For Tests, if selectors want to look up to Wriddhiman Saha, they can, but for me Pant is in front in every format,” Dahiya said.
Pant got his maiden ODI call-up in the recently-concluded ODI series against the West Indies. The youngster played three ODIs. The playing elevens in all those three matches included Pant as well as Dhoni.
“Pant’s inclusion with Dhoni is a signal that Indian cricket is looking forward. It is difficult to fill Dhoni’s shoes but the way Pant is performing, he will in time,” Dahiya said.“Dhoni is a legend of the game. He has changed the face of Indian cricket,” Dahiya, who played 2 Tests and 19 ODIs for India, said.After the West Indies series, Virat Kohli’s men’s next assignment will be a gruelling tour of Australia, starting November 21. India are scheduled to play 3 T20Is, 4 Tests and 3 ODIs. Rishabh’s performances down under will be closely monitored.
“It is going to be a tough tour because Australia are playing in Australia. Whenever Australia have toured India, they had a tough time. Local support always matters. It is going to be an interesting series,” Dahiya said.
“Australia don’t have their best side now, they are also a side in the making. I am hoping for a good contest,” he said.
Australia will be facing India without the services of their star players – Steve Smith and David Warner, who are serving bans for their involvement in a ball-tampering scandal.
“They (Smith and Warner) can take any side to a win. As far as their cricketing abilities are concerned, they are surely going to miss Warner and Smith on the field. Their absence will be an added advantage for India. They are the match-winners,” Dahiya signed off.