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T20 World Cup: Pant or Samson, who is India’s wicketkeeping front-runner?

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Last updated on 09 Apr 2024 | 07:42 AM
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T20 World Cup: Pant or Samson, who is India’s wicketkeeping front-runner?

With the T20 World Cup around the corner, India will have to make a choice regarding their wicketkeeping department

Whatever happens in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is sacrosanct to the Indian selectors. 

After all, it is the only tournament before the much-coveted T20 World Cup, so whoever does well here, of course, earns themselves a spot in the national team. The others can only reflect on how they couldn’t grab the opportunity. 

Some have emerged as the front-runners, and others have found themselves behind the pecking order. 


Sanju Samson - 178 runs @59.33 and SR of 150.8

Just four games into the season, the early trend favours Sanju Samson.

It has always been the case for Samson, who has started IPL with a bang and has been averaging 37.63 over the first four games in a season. Not just that, on average, his strike rate is quite impressive in the initial four games of a season, at 143.7. That’s always been the trend. 

He has started the 2024 season on a similar note, decimating many of the bowling units. In the first four games this season, Samson has already scored 178 runs, the second-most for him in an IPL season after four games. 

His runs have come at a strike rate of 150.8, where he has also walked in at crucial points for the franchise. Just to give you some context, he’s walked in at 0.2 (vs RCB), 0.6 (vs MI), 1.5 (vs DC) and 1.6 (vs LSG), and in two out of those games, has played a match-winning knock. 

Samson can do no wrong at the moment, which makes him one of the front-runners to be India’s wicketkeeper. However, the biggest problem lies in his consistency, so he must maintain that. 

Rishabh Pant - 153 runs @30.60 and SR of 154.55

Rishabh Pant in an Indian jersey, isn’t that already giving you the chills? 

India couldn’t have asked for a better outcome at this year’s IPL than Pant returning to solid form. And Pant hasn’t disappointed. He looked rusty to kick this season off, but as the season went on, he picked up pace to delight the Indian fans. 

Pant has already racked up 153 runs in five innings this year, averaging 30.6, out of which 103 have come in middle overs, where he is likely to bat for the national team. 

What will be more exciting for the Indian fans is that his power-hitting prowess hasn’t gone, making him a threatening option. 

It was evident in the clash against Chennai Super Kings (CSK), where he took on one of the best death-over bowlers, Matheesha Pathirana, scoring 19 off nine deliveries. In the next encounter, he also smacked 28 off Venkatesh Iyer’s over, scoring at 466.7 against him. 

He even scored back-to-back half-centuries for the first time in the IPL since 2019. It is already an exciting prospect for the Indian fans, and it won’t be shocking if he is the first-choice option in Indian colours. 

Remember, India don’t have too many left-handed wicketkeepers to break the monotony of a RHBs.

Down the pecking order

Jitesh Sharma - 58 runs @14.5 and SR of 126.09

Since 2022, in 23 innings, Jitesh Sharma had a record that other keepers were jealous of. Across two seasons of the tournament, Jitesh scored 520 runs, averaging just 26. But the best part about his knocks were his incredible record at the death — a strike rate of 186.5. It was one of those things that took him to the national team. 

In nine T20Is, Jitesh scored 100 runs, striking at 147.05. But since making his India debut, his numbers have been on a steep decline in the IPL, with just 58 runs this year, while his average has been only 14.5, his strike rate of 126 is concerning. 

One of Jitesh’s strong suits, hitting spin, has become a problem this year. The right-hander has scored 33 runs off 17 balls, with two dismissals, striking at 194.1. Not just that, his game against pace too has been severely hampered, with 25 runs off 29 balls, striking at 95.2, averaging 12.5. 

Jitesh might be solely responsible if he doesn’t make it to the World Cup squad. 

Ishan Kishan - 92 runs @23 and SR 170.37

Before IPL 2024, Ishan Kishan’s last appearance for India was in November 2023, when he played against Australia in the T20I series. Since then, Kishan has only played in the DY Patil tournament, where he played just one match, scoring 19 runs. 

So, whatever he does at this year’s competition will be monumental. He started the season with a duck against Gujarat Titans and didn’t show much prowess against Rajasthan Royals either. 

But in the other two games, Kishan showed India what they wanted to see - intent in the powerplay. With field restrictions, Kishan has scored 70 runs, striking at 159.1, the best for any wicketkeeper batter. 

What works in his favour: Considering India might be looking at a backup batter, Kishan can sneak in with his ability to double up as an opener and give India that LHB option at the top of the order. But for that, he must maintain his strike rate in the powerplay and, if possible, improve upon it in the upcoming games. 

Surprise picks

Dinesh Karthik - 90 runs @11.67 and SR 173.08

It is crazy that a 38-year-old could be in contention to make it to his third T20 World Cup squad. Such has been Dinesh Karthik’s form at the IPL this year. He’s executed a role India desperately needs from a wicketkeeper-batter, finishing the innings.

After representing India at the 2022 T20 World Cup, his form had a major dip in the subsequent IPL when he scored just 140 runs. But this year, he has returned to doing what he does best - smashing bowlers with a strike rate of 173.1. 

At the death, the Tamil Nadu man has struck at 218.4, with seven sixes. He also has scored the joint-second most boundaries (13) in that phase, with 84.3% of his runs coming in fours and sixes (66 runs). Playing such a brand of cricket augurs his chances well. 

What remains to be seen is how he plays against spin, which has repeatedly been his kryptonite.

P.S. There's another wicketkeeper option for India but they will have to do more than convincing to make the 42-year-old return to the national setup. He seems to be in the best batting form in quite a while now. Bole Jo Koyal Bago Mein (What people keep saying around you).

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