Rishabh Pant is not exactly the darling of the Indian cricket fans at the moment. While his Test career has been solid, but his exploits in ODIs and T20Is have left much to be desired. He made his T20I debut in 2017 against England, thanks to an explosive IPL season, where he tore apart many a bowling lineups.
However, since his debut in Tests, he had a good run with centuries in England and Australia, with two scores of 92 runs each in two Tests against the West Indies at home. However, his 20-over and 50-over careers have been a hit and miss with 229 runs in 10 ODIs and 325 runs in 20 T20Is. With continued failures in World Cup and West Indies tour; Pant has been targeted a lot and some experts are clamoring for Pant to be given a breather while giving chances to some other wicketkeepers.
Though many of the known names are in the line to replace Pant in the Men in Blue squad, we take a look at five unknown quantities who have done amazingly well in the domestic cricket and various T20 leagues in India.
Here are the five lesser-known wicketkeepers who can replace Rishabh Pant in the Indian team
1. Narayan Jagadeesan
25-year-old Narayan Jagadeesan hails from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu and was part of Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2018. Jagadeesan has been in news for his performances for Dindigul Dragons in the Tamil Nadu Premier League T20 competition which has attracted many eyeballs for interesting and top-flight cricket by local talents.
Jagadeesan is an opener-wicketkeeper, a rare combination seen in today’s world. His glovework is very good and is constantly getting better with experience and working with other experts. Having made his FC debut in 2016, Jagadeesan has 837 runs in 17 matches with 3 centuries and 3 half-centuries at an average of 41.58 and the best score of 131*. In 39 limited-overs matches in domestic cricket, the right-handed batsman has 1005 runs with one century and 5 half-centuries to his name.
However, most of his amazing work has come for TNPL, where he has scored 396 runs last year and then followed that up with 448 runs in 2019 edition. Jagadeesan has shown malleability to the different formats whenever he has played in domestic cricket and it’s this flexibility that will be key for him as he throws his hat into the ring for wicketkeeper probables.
2. KS Bharat
Andhra Pradesh’s wicketkeeper-batsman Kona Srikar Bharat has been praised a lot in recent times by both former players and BCCI selectors who have said that he is definitely in their plans of red-ball cricket. He is not only a brilliant keeper behind the stumps, which is evident from videos on his social media accounts, but his acumen with the bat has earned him almost a permanent place in India A sides.
So far, he has 3909 runs in 69 FC matches with 8 centuries and the highest score of 308 runs and averages 37.58. He has 3 centuries in 46 List-A matches as well where he has 1281 runs to his name. Bharat has come very close to earning a maiden call up to the Indian team for the West Indies tour as per the BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad himself.
His red-hot form for India A had attracted eyeballs, given that he has scored three centuries against Australia A, England Lions and Sri Lanka A. He had made his FC debut for Andhra at the age of 19 and 25-year-old Bharat is in the right age and, in the form, to be called up for the Indian team soon.
3. Ankush Bains
Himachal Pradesh’s Ankush Bains has been making quite a noise in domestic circuit off late. He made his debut at the age of 17 and played for the India U19 in the 2014 World Cup. Since then, he has been the stalwart and mainstay of the Himachal FC team and has a fair record in the domestic circuit.
He has 2160 runs in 43 FC matches with 6 centuries and 6 half-centuries with the best score of 161 and an average of 34.28. He also has a good limited-overs record as well, scoring 1554 runs in 72 matches including one-day and T20 formats. He has also been picked up in IPL by Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals, and Delhi Capitals, though he is yet to play a single game in the league over the years.
However, his brilliant glovework behind the stumps has earned him a good place by everyone. He has 180 odd victims behind the stumps and with Indian team looking for a young and able keeper-batsman who can serve the team for a long time, Bains is perhaps the best choice on which the selectors can bet on.
4. Aryan Juyal
17-year-old Aryan Juyal has been a rising name in the domestic circuit and even played in India U19’s successful Youth World Cup 2018. He had made his international debut against South Africa in the tournament. In the same year, he made his List A debut for Uttar Pradesh and topped the batting charts for the Vinoo Mankad Trophy in 2017 with 401 runs. He then made his T20 debut in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2018-19 for Uttar Pradesh.
Juyal led the India U19 team to victory over Sri Lanka U19 team in 2018 and led the team to 3-2 win in youth ODIs. He has 97 runs in 3 List A matches with one half-century. Given that he is just a teenager, Juyal has much to learn but still has his basics right. He has trained under Sanjay Bharadwaj in Delhi and his childhood coach Rajendra Negi was felicitated along with his ward by the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat after Juyal returned from victorious U19 World Cup campaign.
Though he might be very back in the line of possible replacements for Rishabh Pant, his batting and keeping have encouraged many experts and many have focused their eyes on the growth and exposure young Juyal receives in the coming time, so that he can stake a claim in the Indian team.
5. Prabhsimran Singh
Prabhsimran Singh was recently in the news after he was bought by Kings XI Punjab for a whopping INR 4.8 crore during the IPL 2019 auction. A die-hard fan of Australian Adam Gilchrist, he looked up to him when he started keeping wickets, but when it comes to batting, his hero is former India opener Virender Sehwag.
He made headlines last year when he smashed 298 runs in 301 balls against Amritsar in the semi-final of the Punjab U-23 Inter-District Cricket Tournament. He had led the India U19 team to 2018 U19 Asia Cup title as well and led from the front. He is yet to play an FC match for Punjab but has 108 runs in 7 T20 matches with a strike rate of 166.15.
He had also impressed former India wicketkeeper Kiran More during a camp in NCA in Bengaluru, who helped him hone his skills. Coming from a cricketing family, Prabhsimran Singh has a lot of expectations to fulfil and though he doesn’t have much experience in domestic cricket at the moment, he is a potential option for replacing Rishabh Pant, if the selectors want to take the left of the field and choose someone raw and then mould him into a perfect wicketkeeper-batsman for Men in Blue for a long haul.
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