Sam Billings picks Rishabh Pant as Dhoni’s successor

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Sam Billings picks Rishabh Pant as Dhoni’s successor

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SportsCafe Desk


Delhi Daredevils’ batsman Sam Billings believes that Rishabh Pant can fill in the big shoes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, once the latter retires from the game. The Englishman also reserved special praise for Rahul Dravid for helping him understand the technical aspects of the game.

After a staggering Ranji Trophy, Rishabh Pant has been making all the right noises in the Indian Premier League - both with the bat and gloves. The Delhi keeper has already scored 140 runs in four matches and his technical soundness has already attracted a lot of eyeballs. English batsman Sam Billings is the latest to join the Pant fan club stating that the teenager could be the long-term successor to Indian legend MS Dhoni

“Rishabh Pant, who without doubt is the best young player I have ever seen. He is phenomenal, both as a batsman and a keeper, just looking at the way he has done in these first few games. He was standing up to the stumps, almost Dhoni-esque. There is no doubt in my mind that once MS Dhoni hangs his boots, Pant is the guy (to replace him). Big words I know, but you just see him and it is there," Billings told Scroll in an interview. 

“The first time I saw him at training was last year, in a squad game. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Morris were bowling, and he was hitting them to the top tier of the Kotla. And I remember thinking, “Jesus, this guy is 19”?”

The IPL has struck a familiarity with the modern generation and has served as a benchmark for the globalization of the sport. Not only have the Indian players benefitted from exposure to international stars but it also allowed players from other countries to understand India better. And Billings, too, is one among the latter. 

“Any time you come to India, there is added pressure because there is so much passion about the game here. There is no other country in the world that likes cricket more than India, and it is an amazing place to play simply for that reason alone. It really does give you a buzz and every crowd, especially in T20 matches, is so loud and there is a very unique experience,” the Englishman added.

Billings also praised Rahul Dravid, his mentor at Daredevils’ set-up, for helping him on his technique.

He said, “I hail from Kent, and it is the county I played for back home in England. Rahul Dravid played for Kent and he scored a lot of runs there. I used to watch him as a kid. So it is just brilliant being able to work closely with him and learn so much about the game. I can say he has helped me in this or that technical aspect, but it is very tough to put a finger on it on any particular day because this T20 format evolves so quickly with time. So you find yourself in different situations.

“I think this is where someone like Dravid helps the most. You might have done well or had a bad day at the office, but you can just go over and talk to him, or even Paddy Upton. You can see how they react and it helps you through it. The amazing thing about Dravid is that he is a very level headed individual, irrespective of whatever happens. He is very calm. I think that is the quality I want to take with me.” 

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