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MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik and other Indian wicketkeepers make a statement in IPL 2018

It’s impossible to find a proper replacement for MS Dhoni but the IPL 2018 has thrown up options that one can look forward to when the fateful day arrives.

cricket Updated: May 14, 2018 10:11 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
MS Dhoni,Dinesh Karthik,IPL 2018
Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni (L) is and Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik are just two wicketkeepers who have been key to their side’s fortunes in the IPL 2018. (AFP)

Till some time back, a wicket-keeper’s job was to execute his duties behind the stumps. Then came the likes of Adam Gilchrist and Mark Boucher and the equation changed in the limited-overs format. (IPL 2018 FULL COVERAGE)

From wicketkeepers who could bat, the preference shifted to batsmen who could keep wickets. The Rahul Dravid-Sourav Ganguly saga was a part of the shift.

At 36, MS Dhoni isn’t getting younger. Although his age-defying finishing abilities coupled with lightning-fast reflexes behind the wickets suggest otherwise, in reality, he will hang up his boots in the near future.

It’s impossible to find his replacement but this IPL has thrown up options that one can look forward to when the fateful day arrives.

Had Ishan Kishan been a year younger, he would be half of Dhoni’s age. Yet, his batting prowess is something that might have even taken the veteran by surprise. The lanky 19-year-old hits the ball clean and plays at a rate which startles the opposition.

READ | Ravichandran Ashwin is India captaincy material: Joe Dawes

He’s played nine innings in the IPL so far and has 238 runs at a strike rate of 160.81. He’s also the most successful Indian behind the stumps and has effected nine dismissals with seven catches and two stumpings.

Like Ishan, it has also been a dream season for his former under-19 teammate Rishabh Pant. Pant is the leading run-getter this season, and has a 63-ball 128 knock against his name. The swashbuckling left hander has already earned his national cap, having featured in four T20s.

Playing an attacking brand of cricket comes naturally to the duo. Even in the 2016-17 Ranji season, Pant’s season strike rate was a staggering 107.28 while Kishan’s read 83.92.

It has also been a great season for Sanju Samson and the experienced KL Rahul. A significant reason why Kings XI Punjab have been enjoying a great run this season is because of Rahul’s partnership with Chris Gayle at the top.

READ | IPL 2018: First Sanju Samson, now Jos Buttler carrying RR’s play-off hopes

Like Rahul, Samson has been one of the main run-getters for Rajasthan Royals but needs to convert his starts into big scores. He, however, hasn’t been keeping wickets as Jos Buttler is in that role. Unlike Pant and Ishan, Rahul and Samson often switch gear between their knocks if required to settle things down before upping the ante.

The other Indian keeper who has been enjoying a decent season is veteran Dinesh Karthik, the highest run-getter for Kolkata Knight Riders, but hasn’t quite impressed like Rahul, Ishan and Pant.

Rahul and Karthik are in the squad for the ODI and T20I series against Ireland and England, while Pant and Samson earned a call-up for the India A squad for the four-day and ODI tri-series in the UK.

First Published: May 14, 2018 10:09 IST