'There is Rahul, there is Samson but…': Dravid namedrops Dhoni in epic statement as India face keeper conundrum for WC

Published on Jan 24, 2023 07:21 AM IST

Addressing a press conference ahead of the 3rd ODI against New Zealand, Indian head coach Rahul Dravid gave legendary cricketer MS Dhoni a special mention while discussing India’s wicketkeeper conundrum in the ODI World Cup year.

Indian head coach Rahul Dravid gave legendary cricketer MS Dhoni a special mention(Getty Images-BCCI)
Indian head coach Rahul Dravid gave legendary cricketer MS Dhoni a special mention(Getty Images-BCCI)
By, New Delhi

With India missing the services of injured glovesman Rishabh Pant in the World Cup year, the Rahul Dravid-coached side has roped in Ishan Kishan after a tried and tested KL Rahul was unavailable for the New Zealand series due to personal reasons. Former Indian vice-captain Rahul was the first-choice keeper in the Sri Lanka series while in-form Kishan returned to the playing eleven for the three One Day Internationals (ODIs) against New Zealand. Overlooked by selectors for the Sri Lanka ODIs, Kishan was branded as an automatic starter by skipper Rohit after Rahul and Shreyas Iyer were ruled out of the New Zealand series.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference on Monday ahead of the 3rd ODI against the Black Caps, the head coach was asked whether Team India is looking for a Dravid-like wicketkeeper-batter in the lead-up to the 2023 World Cup. In order to accommodate talented youngsters like Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag, a specialist batter like Dravid became India's full-time wicketkeeper in the early 2000s.

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Batting icon Dravid famously donned the wicketkeeper's gloves for Sourav Ganguly-led Team India at the 2003 World Cup. Taking cognisance of the reporter's question, the Indian head coach gave a special mention to legendary wicketkeeper-batter MS Dhoni before lauding the younger crop of wicketkeepers. During his playing days, batting legend Dravid was relieved of his wicketkeeping duties following the arrival of Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik, and Dhoni.

“We always looking for a wicketkeeper-batsman, there is no question about it. I think since there has been MS Dhoni, in white-ball cricket, the days of specialist wicketkeepers are gone unfortunately. We are lucky and we are fortunate that all of the guys who are in contention, even in this team you know whether it's Ishan Kishan or KS Bharat are both good batsmen and have done well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Bharat hasn't played but Ishan has obviously done well as a batsman," Dravid told reporters ahead of the 3rd ODI against New Zealand.

Kishan, who is keeping wickets for India in the absence of Rahul, was also brought into the Test squad for the first two Tests of high-profile Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia. Kishan received his maiden Test call-up following his remarkable run in the limited-overs formats. The explosive Indian opener stunned the cricket fraternity with his sensational double-century against Bangladesh in the third ODI in December, last year.

Kishan will be pitted against Srikar Bharat, who is also named in the Test squad for the Australia series. The same duo are also part of the ODI side in the ongoing series against New Zealand. Then there is a Jitesh Sharma in the mix. The Vidarbha wicketkeeper-batter earned his maiden call-up in Sri Lanka T20Is. The Punjab Kings star had replaced wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson, who was ruled out of the T20I series due to a knee injury. Jitesh has kept his place in the Indian T20I side for the three-match series New Zealand

"There is Rahul there, Samson is there, but unfortunately, Rishabh is injured. All of these guys are wicketkeeper-batsmen. I think today, you have to be a wicketkeeper-batsman. You should be able to bat and contribute significantly. We have also picked up Jitesh Sharma in the T20 mix because of his ability to bat and score runs at a very quick pace as he has shown in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy and in the IPL that he has played. So yeah it's given now that all teams need a wicketkeeper-batsman,” Dravid added.

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