Ishan Kishan or KS Bharat: Question for India ahead of West Indies tour


Taking a cue from England’s Bazball, the Indian team management is pondering whether to play Ishan Kishan ahead of KS Bharat for the first Test match against West Indies, to be played from July 12 at Dominica.

For the Ashes, England recalled Jonny Bairstow at the expense of Ben Foakes, who is considered the best gloveman in England. Bairstow has made several errors behind the stumps against Australia in the first Ashes Test. But when it comes to batting, Foakes doesn’t come any closer to Bairstow. Bairstow scored a run-a-ball 78 in England’s first innings and fits rightly into Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes style of play.

In Rishabh Pant, India have a mixture of both, a solid gloveman and a match-winner with the bat. Following Pant’s injury, India roped in Bharat for the Border-Gavaskar Test series and the WTC final. On a rank turner at home, Bharat struggled to keep wickets against the spin duo off R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, and as a batter, he has hasn’t looked at ease.

Before the WTC final, there were talks of India going in with Ishan Kishan as a specialist wicketkeeper-batter, but team management stuck with Bharat. Ahead of the final, there were enough hints at the Team India’s net session that Bharat is the no 1 choice. Ishan never trained with his gloves and pads on, he was only seen as doing his regular batting practices. Bharat played the WTC final, and was excellent behind the wicket with a couple of excellent grabs, and his DRS calls were also spot on. But again it was his batting that let him down. He was peppered with the short-pitch stuff on a spicy Oval surface and looked in discomfort.

Why Kishan?

The void that Pant’s injury has left is massive. Bharat in his five-match Test career has not looks convincing as a batsman. Ishan Kishan, too, has his share of problems against the short-pitch bowling. But in West Indies, where pitches are relatively low and slow, his hard-hitting batting prowess might give him an edge over Bharat.

BGT 2023 Indian cricketers Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan during a practice session. (PTI)

Kishan is certainly not Pant. But he is the closest version of being a like-for-like replacement for Pant. Like Pant, he is a southpaw who loves to take on the bowlers. A quickfire 50 or 60 at No 7 can change the momentum of a Test and in that sense, Ishan is a more suitable candidate than Bharat.

The other options

With Wriddhiman Saha already being phased out by the team management and his decision to opt-out from the Duleep Trophy selection is a clear indication that the veteran has given up on making a comeback.

Wriddhiman Saha Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha celebrates after scoring a century. (File)

With Ishan and Bharat fighting for the spot, Railways Upendra Yadav is another specialist keeper-batter, who the team management can give a shot. The 26-year-old has been a regular with India A and has played for Rest of India in the Irani Trophy. In the first unofficial Test Bangladesh A, Yadav scored a brilliant 71, while batting at 6.

A fit KL Rahul can be another option for India. He has been India’s first-choice keeper in the ODIs. But his frequent injuries and with ODI World Cup in mind, Indian selectors will not take an unnecessary risk.


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