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Wizards of wicket-keeping

India wicket keeper Rishabh Pant, left, makes a successful LBW appeal on West Indies’ Rovman Powell. Picture: AP Photo, Lynne Sladky

A host of wicket keepers will be waving their wands around at the ICC T20 World Cup writes STUART HESS.

IT’S NOT a stretch to state that as Quinton de Kock, Mohammed Rizwan, Rishabh Pant and Jos Buttler go, so their respective teams South Africa, Pakistan, India and England will go at the ICC T20 World Cup.

Buttler and Pant are a couple of genuine thrill seekers, with bat in hand, with the Englishman stating his fondness for AB de Villiers, and has sought to model his batting on that of the Proteas’ ‘Mr 360’.

Buttler’s overall T20 strike rate is a touch under 140, and this year he’s made four half-centuries in eight matches, suggesting he is carrying some good form with him into the tournament.

Pant hasn’t played as many internationals – just five this year – but he is an instinctive player who bats with a lot of flair, as is often on display when playing at the Delhi Capitals in the IPL, where his strike rate stands at 150.11 over the course of 77 matches in the most lucrative and pressure-packed T20 competition outside of the World Cup.

Rizwan, meanwhile, arrives in the UAE as arguably the hottest property in the shortest format. He has been a nemesis for the Proteas this year.

Mohammad Rizwan of Pakistan. Picture: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

He’s passed 50 eight times in 14 T20 innings in 2021, converting one of those into a hundred. And while he’s scoring a boatload of runs, he’s also doing so at a prodigious strike rate of 140.11.

Along with the magnificent Babar Azam, he provides Pakistan with a devastating ‘1-2’ opening combination that, along with their always dangerous bowlers, makes the 2010 champions strong contenders this year.

De Kock is the wicket most of the Proteas’ opponents will target for he cannot be controlled once set. Everyone knows his strong scoring areas early in his innings are square of the wicket on both sides, but the trouble is that once set, he scores all around the ground.

Quinton de Kock of South Africa is dangerous once he gets going. Picture: Pradeep Dambarage, BackpagePix

De Kock’s been in good form – and has needed to be – as the Proteas have continued to experiment with personnel and style. His 455 runs this year have come at a strike rate of 135.82, including five 50s.

The four wizards of wicket keeping may just be the ones to decide this year’s tournament.

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