Ahead of the first Test against England in Hyderabad, India captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid have a conundrum for the wicketkeeper’s choice, a decision that could force other changes in the batting order.
There is no doubt that KL Rahul is a better batsman than KS Bharat. There is also no doubt that KS Bharat is a much better wicketkeeper than KL Rahul.
Rahul made his Test return in South Africa and took up the gloves because India needed his services as a batsman much more than they needed KS Bharat’s wicket-keeping. And while he did decently as a wicketkeeper, though he dropped two catches, India are unlikely to trust KL Rahul with the gloves in the five-test series at home against England. The management reportedly wants to play Rahul, who notched up a high-quality century in Centurion, only as a pure batter against England.
To do wicket-keeping throughout the Test series under the heat of India is something the management won’t want to ask KL Rahul. For that, you need a specialist—someone who has done this on a regular basis.
Cue KS Bharat. Bharat is hailed as the best wicketkeeper in the country right now. He has been the designated wicketkeeper for 91 of his 94 first-class matches, 82 of which have been in India. Bharat kept wicket against Australia last year at home and was simply outstanding.
However, Bharat has not contributed with the bat yet. In 5 Tests, he averages 18, though it should be kept in mind that all of them came against Australia.
Who will India pick as wicketkeeper vs England: KL Rahul Or KS Bharat or both?
India are expected to pick both KL Rahul and KS Bharat in the XI against England in the first Test in Hyderabad, with Bharat, the better wicketkeeper, donning the gloves.
Now this is a conundrum for India. It seems that both KL Rahul and KS Bharat will have to play in the first Test against England, but that would mean either one of Shubman Gill or Shreyas Iyer will have to be pushed out from the XI.
Both of them didn’t do much in South Africa, but Iyer is a specialist in Asian conditions. Iyer averages 48 in Asia in 9 Tests, while Gill averages 33 in Asia in 10 Tests.