IPL 2018: A dream tournament for Indian wicketkeeper-batsmen
Bhubaneswar: Prior to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s debut in International cricket, the BCCI Board was always in a dilemma while selecting a wicketkeeper for any international fixture. Be it ODIs or Tests, before 2004 the selectors regularly experimented with wicketkeepers like Parthiv Patel, Deep Dasgupta, Dinesh Karthik and others to find out the best option for the position of wicketkeeper-batsman.
After MSD’s retirement from test matches, the Indian selectors have persisted with 33-year-old Wriddhiman Saha for the tests and at times tried out Naman Ojha and Parthiv Patel who are of the same age group, when Saha was injured.
India went with Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik in the recently concluded Nidahas Trophy where Dinesh kept wickets for the Indian side and impressed one and all with his big hitting skills to win the dramatic final game against Bangladesh.
Just after the tri-series, Indian wicketkeepers in various teams of Indian Premier League have scored runs quite easily. Rishabh Pant’s batting heroics yesterday against Sunrisers Hyderabad is one such example and the Uttarakhand lad grabbed the Orange cap for being the top scorer of the tournament so far.
Five out of eight Indians in the top ten run scorers’ list in this IPL are either wicketkeepers of their respective teams or have donned the keeping gloves before in their career. Let’s take a look at the Indian wicket-keepers whose bats are doing the talking in the 11th edition of the cash-rich league.
1) Rishabh Pant (Delhi Daredevils)
With 521 runs at an average of 52.10, Delhi’s Rishabh Pant is the current Orange Cap-holder. His unbeaten 128 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last game captivated one and all. He played quality cricketing shots and also improvised as and when needed. He has a fabulous strike rate of 179.65 which is very dangerous for any opposition bowling line up. His 85-run knock in Bengaluru was equally impressive as well where he played huge shots all around Chinnaswamy Stadium. Apart from that blistering ton, Pant has three fifties to his name as well.
2) KL Rahul (Kings XI Punjab)
Karnataka’s KL Rahul is at number three in the list of top run-getters, The KXIP stumper has amassed 471 runs from 10 games with an average of 58.87 and a strike rate of 156. He has been providing good starts for KXIP from the very beginning of the tournament but his last two unbeaten knocks of 95 and 84 against Rajasthan Royals have been very special. He has not only played as a big striker of the cricket ball but in the last two knocks he played as a sheet anchor.
3) Ambati Rayudu (Chennai Super Kings)
Although unlike his previous stints with the Mumbai Indians, Chenai Super Kings’ Ambati Rayudu is not being seen behind the stumps because of the presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the team. But CSK has used him really well in the batting lineup. With two good scores of 82 and 79 and some very quick starts, Rayudu is at number five in the top batsmen list with 423 runs. CSK has used him as a floater in the batting order and he has ensured that he capitalizes every opportunity given to him.
4) Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings)
It has been “Maahi Maar Raha Hai” for Chennai fans so far in the IPL-2018. Captain Cool MSD has the highest average in the list and has played some magnificent knocks so far in the tourney. It has been vintage Dhoni in this IPL so far and his fans and supporters of the Super Kings are enjoying every bit of it. Dhoni is at number seven in the list with 360 runs from 10 games at an average of 90 and strike-rate of 166. Dhoni’s unbeaten knock of 79 which came against KXIP in a losing cause this season is his personal best in T20 cricket. Since that game, Dhoni has fired in almost every game for Chennai and answered his critics in style. With his current form one can certainly say that he has a lot in him and his days are not numbered.
5) Sanju Samson (Rajasthan Royals)
23-year-old Kerala wicketkeeper Sanju Samson has also been impressive with the bat so far in the tournament. Although he is not being seen behind the stumps because of Englishman Jos Butler who is donning the keeper’s gloves this season. Sanju has scored 332 runs in 10 games with an average of 36.88 and is at the ninth position of the batsmen’s list in IPL 11. His knock of 92 off 45 balls earlier in the game against Bangalore got him Player of the Match Award and during the early stage of the competition he also had the Orange Cap on his head.
Apart from these five wicketkeepers in the top 10 list, Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik is at number 11 with 321 runs from 11 games and with three games remaining in the season for KKR, he has also got a good chance to enter the list of top 10 batsmen in the season.
Mumbai Indians’ keeper and former India U19 captain Ishan Kishan is also not lagging behind and he has struck a couple of fifties so far in the tournament and was awarded Man of the Match for his brisk knock of 62 off 21 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders Wednesday evening. Senior wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel played his first game for Royal Challengers Bangalore after one-month of commencement of the tourney and went on to score a half-century in his first game.