Injuries to key players, including first-choice wicket keeper Rishabh Pant and back-up KL Rahul, have put the Indian setup in quite the dilemma. In the absence of Pant and Rahul, both KS Bharat and Ishan Kishan have been included in India’s Test squad for the ultimate championship battle next month.
Bharat represented the nation in the longest format when he was allowed to do the glove-work for the team in the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar trophy 2023 held in Feb-march. The 29-year-old gave a very good account of himself as a wicketkeeper but failed to show his full prowess with the bat, as he managed just 101 runs from six innings in the spin-friendly conditions.
On the other hand, Kishan warmed the benches during the four-match Test series against Australia and was only drafted into the WTC squad after Rahul picked up an injury during the IPL and was ruled out of the one-off affair.
Former Indian Coach Ravi Shastri was asked about the wicket-keeper India should go for in the latest episode of the ICC review and said the choice depends on the conditions at the South London venue.
“See, that’s another tight one (decision). Now, if two spinners are playing, then you would want Bharat to play. You have to see who’s a better keeper. Is it Bharat or Ishan Kishan? Now, the fact that Bharat was given a run against Australia, where he played all the Test matches, I think he would be the obvious choice to go with,” Shastri said on the ICC Review.
“There’s not much there. It’s not that one guy is far better than the other. Batting will also come into play, whether you want Ishan Kishan’s batting to shore up the middle order. That’s another thing you’ll take into perspective.” added Shastri.
“Are you going to go with four fast bowlers? Then there’s not much spin and you just need someone decent behind the stumps to do the job. So that you would leave to team management. Just before the game, they would weigh in just these little things that I’ve just said, and obviously look at current form.” Shastri said in the video posted by ICC.
Former Indian wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik, however, feels the selection is easy, with the veteran batter – who played in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)– choosing Bharath’s experience for the big occasion.
“I think Bharat will be a pretty straightforward choice because playing Ishan Kishan in his debut and a Test match straight in the World Test Championship Final is asking a bit too much.” Karthik said.
“And the fact that KS Bharat probably tips the scale in favour of himself just a little bit with this keeping edge that he has got. So I do think they will go in with KS Bharat for the final.” Karthik added.
Although the Visakhapatnam- born Bharat has played only four Test matches so far, he has experience of 90 first-class games in the longest format. Kishan is yet to make his Test debut and has only 48 first-class matches behind him.
While Bharat may be a better option behind the stumps, Kishan is a skillful batter and already has an ODI double century to his name after a brilliant 210 against Bangladesh in Chattogram last year in December.
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