The legend of MS Dhoni is not complete but it has certainly reached its final stages. Dhoni represents something far more than cricket in this country but even he cannot go on for ever. But once he leaves, someone else will need to take his place. And judging by his performances this year in the IPL, it looks like Rishabh Pant has won the race to be the successor to MS Dhoni !
Wriddhiman Saha has done an admirable job for India in the Test arena since Dhoni’s retirement a few years ago. He has become a vital clog in the team as a safe pair of hands as well as being a reliable batsman down the order. But at 32, Saha is not expected to be the long term solution to the “Who after MSD?” conundrum that Indian cricket faces right now. At least it was the case before Rishab Pant showed up.
Timing is everything and Pant has entered the scene just at the right time. The 19 year old was expected to have a big season in this year’s IPL and he has not disappointed. His batting performances have been a highlight for the Delhi Daredevils this year.
His DD team mate Sam Billings has become a fan of the youngster. So much so that he could not believe Pant in just 19 years of age.
“And then there is Rishabh Pant, who without doubt is the best young player I have ever seen. He is phenomenal, both as a batsman and a keeper, just looking at the way he has done in these first few games. He was standing up to the stumps, almost Dhoni-esque. There is no doubt in my mind that once MS Dhoni hangs his boots, Pant is the guy (to replace him). Big words I know, but you just see him and it is there.”
“The first time I saw him at training was last year, in a squad game. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Morris were bowling, and he was hitting them to the top tier of the (Feroz Shah) Kotla. And I remember thinking, ‘Jesus, this guy is (just) 19’?”
Billings is not the only one either as Pant has won over many people this year. His emotional innings right at the beginning of the IPL just after his father’s death had many people rooting for him that night. And the fans have just swelled in number as the youngster from Delhi is making great strides on the IPL stage.
Now it is only a matter of time before Rishab Pant takes over the gloves from MSD.