indian cricket

Five talented wicket-keepers who could plug the MS Dhoni-sized hole in India's Test team

Wriddhiman Saha and Parthiv Patel are not the future. These players could be.

The Indian Test cricket team has seen its share of great wicket-keepers – Kiran More, Budhi Kunderan, Syed Kirmani and of course, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

After Nayan Mongia’s retirement and before the breakthrough of Dhoni, the team went through several keepers – Ajay Ratra, Deep Dasgupta, Vijay Dahiya, Sameer Dighe and Parthiv Patel, who just made a comeback to the Indian Test team after eight years of exile.

The returning Parthiv Patel showed us all why he was highly touted when he first debuted for India against the same opposition at Nottingham as a fresh-faced 17-year old. Playing his first Test after a gap of eight years, he showed spunk and plenty of strokes in his two batting forays in third Test at Mohali.

But Patel at 31 is no longer a viable long-term option as the search for Dhoni’s successor behind the wickets goes on. Neither is Wriddhiman Saha (32), Naman Ojha (33) or the currently-injured Dinesh Karthik (32). Here are five individuals who could take MSD’s spot in the team though:

Rishabh Pant

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Pant first shot into the limelight as India’s wicket-keeper in the Under-19 World Cup held in Bangladesh earlier this year. Despite not having the best tournament behind the stumps, Pant was the team’s second highest run-getter behind Sarfaraz Khan, finishing with 267 runs, with one ton and two fifties.

Fast forward to this season’s Ranji Trophy and the 19-year old from Delhi is in the form of his life. Pant is closing in on 1000 first-class runs after just eight first class appearances, and has four hundreds and three fifties to his name already.

The young left-hander resembles a certain Adam Gilchrist, with his brutal hitting and the ability to take the game away from the opposition through occasional blitzes. Smashing a 300 off just 326 balls, Pant then went on to record the Ranji Trophy’s fastest ever hundred off just 48 balls.

Despite Anil Kumble stating Patel’s keeping skills and experience for picking the Gujarat veteran over the Delhi youngster, it is surely a matter of time before Rishabh Rajendra Pant makes his way to the senior team.

Ishan Kishan

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Pant’s captain in the aforementioned World Cup, Kishan had all the marks of a great future, leading into the tournament – a keeper like MS Dhoni, hailing from the same state Jharkhand and skipper of his age group team.

Kishan had a torrid tournament and managed just 73 runs in his six innings, as his team faltered at the last hurdle, unable to emulate predecessor Unmukt Chand’s exploits. Still just 18, there has always been pressure on Kishan whose Ranji debut for his state came at the tender age of 16.

Like Pant however, Kishan has come into his own this season and has grown as a batsman registering scores of 159 (not out), 273 and 136 for Jharkhand. Gujarat Lions saw his promise early and picked the then-17-year old Kishan up for Rs. 35 lakh. It is now up to Kishan to make good on that promise.

Sanju Samson

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IANS

Before Pant and Kishan though, the original keeping talent was Sanju Samson. It is hard to believe that Samson, who has seen calls for his inclusion numerous times, is just 22.

A rare find from the state of Kerala, Samson burst onto the scene in the 2013 edition of the Indian Super League, where captain and mentor Rahul Dravid, a part-time keeper himself, reserved praise for the young colt, who produced a series of scintillating performances for the Rajasthan Royals.

The problem with Samson, has been his consistency. Despite being a mainstay of the Kerala team, his average of 35.26 at first class level, a good average for a keeper nonetheless, does not do justice for his talents as a batsman. Samson also has been plagued with disciplinary problems of late, something that he has to stamp out if he wants a better future in the game.

This season, Samson started with a 154 against Jammu and Kashmir but failed to cross 50 even once in 10 innings, registering five single-digit scores along the way. Still in the reckoning, but he must pull his socks up if he hopes to seek a spot in the team.

Aditya Tare

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At 29, Tare is also the oldest on this list and not far behind the likes of Patel, Saha, Ojha or Karthik but he does offer four to five years of stability at the highest level.

Not only that, Tare is a proven winner, having captained his side Mumbai to the 2015 Ranji Trophy title; the only one of the five to have led a senior team to a title, domestic or international.

He also comes with bags of experiences at the domestic level, and has 180 dismissals to his name in first-class competition. Tare was also part of the Mumbai Indians team which won the Champions League T20 and the IPL.

While the job of the Mumbai captain may be one of the most demanding jobs in Indian cricket, for Tare, it may be an important stepping stone en route to national duty.

Uday Kaul

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Given the indecision around Dhoni’s back-up (before he retired) or subsequently, his replacement, it is a surprise that Uday Kaul’s name has been absent from the discussion.

Having played for India A, India U-19’s, India U-17’s, Kings XI Punjab and the North Zone, the 28-year old left-hander from Punjab is an attacking option for his state, either as an opener or at No. 3.

Kaul’s average is a healthy 47.42 at first-class level, a good indicator of his consistency and the southpaw has 16 hundreds to his name. This season, Kaul has been a study run-getter, bagging five fifties in 11 innings for the Yuvraj Singh-led side.

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From catching Goan dances in Lisbon to sampling langar in Munich

A guide to the surprising Indian connect in Lisbon and Munich.

For several decades, a trip to Europe simply meant a visit to London, Paris and the Alps of Switzerland. Indians today, though, are looking beyond the tried and tested destinations and making an attempt to explore the rest of Europe as well. A more integrated global economy, moreover, has resulted in a more widespread Indian diaspora. Indeed, if you know where to look, you’ll find traces of Indian culture even in some unlikely cities. Lisbon and Munich are good cities to include in your European sojourn as they both offer compelling reasons to visit, thanks to a vibrant cultural life. Here’s a guide to everything Indian at Lisbon and Munich, when you wish to take a break from all the sight-seeing and bar crawling you’re likely to indulge in.

Lisbon

Lisbon is known as one of the most vibrant cities in Western Europe. On its streets, the ancient and the modern co-exist in effortless harmony. This shows in the fact that the patron saint day festivities every June make way for a summer that celebrates the arts with rock, jazz and fado concerts, theatre performances and art exhibitions taking place around the city. Every two years, Lisbon also hosts the largest Rock festival in the world, Rock in Rio Lisboa, that sees a staggering footfall.

The cultural life of the city has seen a revival of sorts under the current Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. Costa is of Indian origin, and like many other Indian-origin citizens prominent in Portugal’s political, business and entertainment scenes, he exemplifies Lisbon’s deep Indian connect. Starting from Vasco Da Gama’s voyage to India, Lisbon’s historic connection to Goa is well-documented. Its traces can be still be seen on the streets of both to this day.

While the Indian population in Lisbon is largely integrated with the local population, a few diaspora groups are trying to keep their cultural roots alive. Casa de Goa, formed in the ‘90s, is an association of people of Goans, Damanese and Diuese origins residing in Lisbon. Ekvat (literally meaning ‘roots’ in Konkani) is their art and culture arm that aims to preserve Goan heritage in Portugal. Through all of its almost 30-year-long existence, Ekvat has been presenting traditional Goan dance and music performances in Portugal and internationally.

Be sure to visit the Champlimaud Centre for the Unknown, hailed a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, which was designed by the critically-acclaimed Goan architect Charles Correa. If you pay attention, you can find ancient Indian influences, like cut-out windows and stand-alone pillars. The National Museum of Ancient Art also has on display a collection of intricately-crafted traditional Goan jewellery. At LOSTIn - Esplanada Bar, half of the people can be found lounging about in kurtas and Indian shawls. There’s also a mural of Bal Krishna and a traditional Rajasthani-style door to complete the desi picture. But it’s not just the cultural landmarks that reflect this connection. The integration of Goans in Lisbon is so deep that most households tend to have Goa-inspired textiles and furniture as a part of their home decor, and most families have adapted Goan curries in their cuisine. In the past two decades, the city has seen a surge in the number of non-Goan Indians as well. North Indian delicacies, for example, are readily available and can be found on Zomato, which has a presence in the city.

If you wish to avoid the crowds of the peak tourist season, you can even consider a visit to Lisbon during winter. To plan your trip, check out your travel options here.

Munich

Munich’s biggest draw remains the Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival for which millions of people from around the world converge in this historic city. Apart from the flowing Oktoberfest beer, it also offers a great way to get acquainted with the Bavarian folk culture and sample their traditional foods such as Sauerkraut (red cabbage) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

If you plan to make the most of the Oktoberfest, along with the Bavarian hospitality you also have access to the services of the Indian diaspora settled in Munich. Though the Indian community in Munich is smaller than in other major European destinations, it does offer enough of a desi connect to satisfy your needs. The ISKCON temple at Munich observes all major rituals and welcomes everyone to their Sunday feasts. It’s not unusual to find Germans, dressed in saris and dhotis, engrossed in the bhajans. The Art of Living centre offers yoga and meditation programmes and discourses on various spiritual topics. The atmosphere at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Sabha is similarly said to be peaceful and accommodating of people of all faiths. They even organise guided tours for the benefit of the non-Sikhs who are curious to learn more about the religion. Their langar is not to be missed.

There are more options that’ll help make your stay more comfortable. Some Indian grocery stores in the city stock all kinds of Indian spices and condiments. In some, like Asien Bazar, you can even bargain in Hindi! Once or twice a month, Indian film screenings do take place in the cinema halls, but the best way to catch up on developments in Indian cinema is to rent video cassettes and VCDs. Kohinoor sells a wide range of Bollywood VCDs, whereas Kumaras Asean Trades sells Tamil cassettes. The local population of Munich, and indeed most Germans too, are largely enamoured by Bollywood. Workshops on Bollywood dance are quite popular, as are Bollywood-themed events like DJ nights and dance parties.

The most attractive time to visit is during the Oktoberfest, but if you can brave the weather, Munich during Christmas is also a sight to behold. You can book your tickets here.

Thanks to the efforts of the Indian diaspora abroad, even lesser-known European destinations offer a satisfying desi connect to the proud Indian traveller. Lufthansa, which offers connectivity to Lisbon and Munich, caters to its Indian flyers’ priorities and understands how proud they are of their culture. In all its India-bound flights and flights departing from India, flyers can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options, making the airline More Indian than You Think. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalised by Lufthansa to the extent that they now offer a definitive Indian flying experience.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.