What’s the story?
England batsman Sam Billings has lavished praise on his Delhi Daredevils (DD) teammate Rishabh Pant. In an interview with Scroll, the 25-year old called the Indian left-hander as the best young player he has ever seen and went on to anoint him as MS Dhoni’s successor in the Indian team.
While speaking about DD’s squad, Billings felt, “And then there is Rishabh Pant, who without doubt is the best young player I have ever seen. He is phenomenal, both as a batsman and a keeper, just looking at the way he has done in these first few games. He was standing up to the stumps, almost Dhoni-esque. There is no doubt in my mind that once MS Dhoni hangs his boots, Pant is the guy (to replace him). Big words I know, but you just see him and it is there.”
“The first time I saw him at training was last year, in a squad game. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Morris were bowling, and he was hitting them to the top tier of the (Feroz Shah) Kotla. And I remember thinking, ‘Jesus, this guy is (just) 19’?”
In case you missed it...
Earlier this month, Pant suffered a personal tragedy when his father Rajendra passed away due to a cardiac arrest. After performing his last rites, the 19-year old returned to the Daredevils’ fold and played their season opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Showing his immense grit and resolve, he scored a valiant 36-ball 57 to make a good fist of a difficult chase.
The heart of the matter
At 35, Dhoni is approaching the last phase of his eventful international career. At the start of this year, he had stepped down from both the ODI and T20I captaincy in order to enhance the focus on his batting during the final few years of his on-field journey.
While Wriddhiman Saha has successfully replaced the veteran in Test cricket, it won’t be too long before India start to think about Dhoni’s successor in the limited-overs formats.
With his explosive batting and energetic keeping, Pant has emerged as one of the leading contenders to fill into the stalwart’s big shoes. The teenager has amassed over 1100 runs from 11 first-class matches at a remarkable average of 68.81 and an even more astonishing strike-rate of 101.10 including 4 centuries.
Despite coming in lower down the order, Pant has scored 141 runs from 5 games in the IPL season thus far. His next assignment will be against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday night.
Even though it might sound as a bit of a leap at this stage, Billings’ assessment is certainly spot on. An impressive start to his career and a promising domestic record help Pant make a strong case for being Dhoni’s successor in the near future.