BENGALURU: Since MS Dhoni’s retirement from Test cricket, India have struggled to find a suitable replacement for the longer format of the game. Wriddhiman Saha was considered as a natural successor due to his superior keeping skills but with the right-hander out with a long-term injury since May, other options were also explored.
The likes of Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant have all donned the wicket-keeping gloves but nobody has managed to make the position his own.
The team management opted for Karthik in the first two Tests against England but his underwhelming displays with the bat forced a rethink. Pant was shunted into the team and made his debut in the third Test at Nottingham. He has not really set the stage alight even though he has time on his side.
All this proves that India still lack the batting solidarity that Dhoni brought to the team in his Test playing days. The contenders are also not as reliable as the former India captain behind the stumps.
Former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist believes the void is a big one and that it will take time to replace a replacement as good as Dhoni.
“It’s a challenging situation. We also faced a similar situation when Shane Warne retired. These are not easy gaps to fill. Dhoni used to be really good in the batsmen-wicketkeeper role plus he was the captain,” Gilchrist said on the sidelines of a promotional event here on Sunday.
However, the Aussie believes that the situation opens up chances for newcomers. He believes, with his explosive batting style, Pant can be a huge boost for India in the middle-order.
“Pant looks like an exciting prospect. The way he keeps and bats, he is a bit like Quinton de Kock. The challenge will be for him to perform consistently. I’m sure he is aware of the opportunity he has got.” Gilchrist is also not in favour of too much tinkering with the position.
“Such a situation gives young players a chance. It might take chopping and changing to find the right fit. But I believe selectors need to be consistent in their selection. They should allow players to settle at the top level. If you change too many times, it can leave a psychological scar in the players’ mind.”
The Australia legend has been impressed with the Indian pace attack. In the Test series so far, the five pacers have grabbed a combined 59 wickets. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s likely inclusion in the team for the Australia tour, Gilchrist believes, India will be confident.
“India have a fine pace attack. Bhuvneshwar with his skills and Ishant Sharma with his longevity have really impressed me. In the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, they will have an opportunity and it will be intriguing to see how they perform,” Gilchrist signed off.