MS Dhoni's retirement is delayed, but well, it is inevitable. Also, his absence from Test side has not been felt as Wriddhiman Saha and then Rishabh Pant got the job done.
However, while Saha is an excellent keeper, his batting is not very reliable. Pant, on the other hand, has the X-factor with the bat, but his keeping needs a lot of work. When the selectors convene to pick India's squad, they will be facing a predicament as far as India's secondary wicket-keeper.
While common notion says that Rishabh Pant is Dhoni's successor, a young man from Andhra Pradesh is quietly rising through the ranks and has thrown his hat in the ring. Over the last year, the 25-year-old Srikar Bharat has been phenomenal and very consistent. He 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.
During this period, he has amassed 686 runs with three centuries and two half-centuries. He is also very assured behind the stumps and took 41 catches and effected six stumpings.
Impressive numbers racked up
It is interesting to note here that the selectors have included both Wriddhiman Saha and Srikar Bharat in India 'A' squad, which will face West Indies 'A' in an official Test match. Saha is 34-years old and despite his proficiency behind the stumps, age is not on his side.
Hence, the selectors could include Bharat in India's Test plans as the secondary wicket-keeper after Rishabh Pant. He could get the nod if Pant is rested, keeping in mind the workload management.
Bharat has been a consistent performer in the domestic circuit - during the 2014/15 Ranji season 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, and this was eclipsed by Rishabh Pant later in the season.
So far, he has scored 3798 runs in 65 first-class matches, which includes eight centuries and 20 fifties. Also, he has taken 223 catches and effected 27 stumpings all of which have only bolstered his case for a Test inclusion.
With these numbers backing him, he should be given the taste of international cricket. With his presence in the squad, Rishabh Pant will also be on his toes, which might yield more consistent performances from the southpaw.