Experts Support KS Bharat as India's Top Wicket-keeper Choice for Tests vs Australia

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Tue, 07/02/2023
Experts Support KS Bharat as India's Top Wicket-keeper Choice for Tests vs Australia
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The Indian cricket team is facing a major setback as Rishabh Pant has been ruled out of action for an indefinite period. The absence of the dynamic left-handed batter, who was known for rescuing the team from challenging situations with his counterattacking knocks and cheerful presence behind the stumps, will be felt.

In the upcoming Test series against Australia, starting from February 9 in Nagpur, India will have to choose between two uncapped wicketkeeper-batters, KS Bharat and Ishan Kishan.

MSK Prasad, former chairman of the senior men's selection committee, has opined that Bharat should be given a chance as he has been groomed for the Test spot, especially when it comes to keeping wickets in home conditions. Bharat has been an understudy to Saha and then Pant in the Test team since 2019 and has been a regular in India A. On the other hand, Kishan kept wickets for the Indian team in the white-ball games against New Zealand and Sri Lanka this year and also for India A in two unofficial four-day matches on the tour of South Africa in 2021.

Bharat's wicket-keeping skills were on display during the Kanpur Test against New Zealand in 2021, where he substituted for the injured Wriddhiman Saha and took some impressive catches. Prasad, who played for India in 6 Tests and 19 ODIs, has been following Bharat's progress since he was an 11-year-old kid playing for Andhra. He believes that Bharat has not only developed into a good wicket-keeper but also a top-notch batsman, as evidenced by his 4707 runs in 86 first-class matches, with a triple century in the Ranji Trophy and centuries for India A against Australia A and South Africa A.

Former India wicketkeeper-batter Deep Dasgupta believes Bharat should be the preferred option for Tests against Australia, while expressing confidence in Kishan's abilities. Dasgupta stated that the plans in place for the past six months, which include Bharat in red-ball cricket as the second in line after Pant, should be followed through.

On the other hand, Prasad feels that Kishan, who has 2985 runs in 48 first-class matches with 99 catches and 11 stumpings, will have to wait for his chance in Tests. Despite being a good wicketkeeper-batter, Kishan will have to be patient like Bharat, who waited for his opportunities as deputy to Saha or Pant.

The absence of Pant is undoubtedly a big blow to India's plans of continuing its dominance in home conditions. Pant has been India's leading scorer in Tests since 2020, with 1517 runs in 38 innings. It remains to be seen who will step up to fill the void left by Pant's absence.