The other Indian wicketkeeper who can be groomed as MS Dhoni's successor – Srikar Bharat
Who is the best Indian wicketkeeper based on current form? MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha – the answers this question will draw are diverse. However, the one name that could be missed as the debate surrounding who India should groom as Dhoni’s successor rages on is Srikar Bharat of Andhra Pradesh.
Over the last year, the 25-year-old Bharat has played 11 unofficial Tests for India ‘A’, against the ‘A’ teams of West Indies, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England Lions. In this period, he has scored 686 runs with three centuries and two half-centuries, held 41 catches and effected six stumpings.
Could Bharat throw his hat in the ring as the Indian selectors meet to name the Indian squad for the tour of West Indies on Sunday?
The leading contender to be named in all three squads is the 21-year-old Rishabh Pant. Pant announced his arrival on the Test stage with an unbeaten 159 against Australia in Sydney earlier this year.
The other name which is bound to come up is that of Bengal’s Wriddhiman Saha. In fact, Saha and Bharat are the two keepers who have been named in the India ‘A’ squad for for the three multi-day matches against the West Indies ‘A’ to be played in July-August. The series between India and West Indies will commence immediately after the series between the ‘A’ teams.
Saha, now 34 years old, played his last Test in January 2018. His hopes of making a comeback are complicated by the fact that age is not on his side.
Therefore, it remains a possibility that Srikar Bharat could be drafted into the Test side, perhaps as a backup for Pant, or perhaps to give Pant some rest.
Bharat earned an IPL contract with Delhi Daredevils in 2015 after his breakthrough 2014/15 Ranji season, in which he scored 758 runs at an average of 54.11. In 2015, he became the only wicketkeeper to score a triple century in the Ranji Trophy, a record which has since then been annulled by Rishabh Pant’s triple ton.
Bharat, who had been heavily praised by then Andhra captain Mohammad Kaif when the latter had taken over the reins of the team, is used to opening the innings for his side. His energetic wicketkeeping is complimented by tenacious batting. His triple century was scored on a grassy wicket, when others around him had found the going tough.