Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has opined that Rishabh Pant is the primary contender to take MS Dhoni's place as the wicket-keeper in the Indian team.
Aakash Chopra made this observation while responding to viewer questions on various cricketing matters on his YouTube channel.
On being asked who is likely to be India's next permanent keeper now that MS Dhoni has retired, the reputed commentator responded that it would not be just the one wicket-keeper since Wriddhiman Saha would continue to don the gloves in Test cricket.
"It will not be one because Wriddhiman Saha is there for Tests. So he will remain in Test cricket. And when Dhoni had left Test cricket for the last 4 years, we did not have just the one keeper. There used be Saha in Tests and Dhoni in ODIs."
Aakash Chopra suggested that Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul are likely to fight it out for the wicket-keeper's spot in limited-overs cricket in the immediate future.
"Now that Dhoni is not there, you will have Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul trying to resolve this white-ball puzzle for some time. Saha will continue as the Test keeper, he will go to Australia and play there."
The 42-year-old picked Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson as a couple of other young glovemen who could also be in contention, apart from Rishabh Pant, in the long haul.
"In the generation after that, I think Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson are two names who come to my mind whom you would look at very closely. And Rishabh Pant is going to be there."
Aakash Chopra's take on KL Rahul as the wicket-keeper
Aakash Chopra opined that KL Rahul is likely to cement his place in the Indian team as a specialist batsman. He observed that it would be very difficult for the KXIP captain to consistently open the batting in ODI cricket after having kept wickets for 50 overs.
"KL Rahul, I think, will establish himself as a pure batsman and not a keeper. Because I am not able to digest how you would open the batting in a 50-over match after having kept for 50 overs and that too continuously, it will be difficult. And I want KL Rahul the batsman much more that KL Rahul the keeper."
Aakash Chopra concluded that Rishabh Pant would be the front-runner to take the permanent wicket-keeper's spot in the Indian team, with Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan close on his heels.
"So, Rishabh Pant is No.1 in that race to be a more permanent keeper. I will also keep Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan in that list."
Rishabh Pant has scored 374 runs in the 16 ODI matches he has played, at a below-par average of 26.71. Even in T20I cricket, he has not covered himself in glory, having scored 410 runs in 28 matches at an unimpressive average of 20.50.
He would be hoping to perform consistently in the upcoming IPL for Delhi Capitals to regain his confidence and stake his claim for a spot in the Indian team.