OPINION: Ishan Kishan Should Replace Rishabh Pant In The Test Series Against Australia
Pant suffered the accident on the morning of the last Friday of 2022. The 25-year-old was rushed to the hospital. He has undergone plastic surgery to manage his facial injuries, lacerated wounds, and abrasions. He also has injuries in his leg, the scans of which will be taken after the swelling subsides.
The doctors at Max Hospital in Dehradun have also treated him "for suspected right knee ligament injury, and suspected right ankle ligament injury”. It is assumed that Pant is out for at least 4 months of action due to his leg injuries.
While Pant may not have been a certainty is India's white-ball teams, he is India's first-choice keeper in the Test side, and was perhaps their best Test batsman in the last couple of years.
Now, with Rishabh Pant ruled out of the Tests vs Australia, India will have to ponder who will take Pant's place as the keeper. The first name brought up will be that of KS Bharat, who has been part of Team India's squad over the past year and more as a backup keeper to Pant and Saha. KS Bharat is yet to make his India debut but he showed his terrific wicket-keeping skills when he got the opportunity to replace the injured Saha during a Test against New Zealand last year. The selectors might consider Bharat as the incumbent to Pant and hand him a Test debut.
But, the problem with that is will the team management want an uncapped player with no experience of international cricket in any format to make his debut in such a high-profile and important - in respect to a place in the WTC final - series such as this one against Australia? It may not be a resounding yes or no. Or will they bring back the experienced 38-year-old Wriddhiman Saha, but whose batting returns are not near Pant's? Or, should they dare, blood in an aggressive batting option like Ishan Kishan, a left-hander like Pant, to replace the aggressive Pant?
While all options remain open, the one including Ishan Kishan speaks of an attacking mindset, and with the logic of its own. Given the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams, and the importance for India to win the series to reach the WTC final, rank-turners, and dustbowls pitches can be expected against Australia.
This means that the batters will have that one ball that can come anytime which will take their wicket. In such cases, it is better if a batter - not named Pujara- makes the most out of the time they spend at the crease. Instead of looking to get their eye in and consolidate, a batsman would be better off aiming to score of the scorable deliveries - as someone like Pant perfectly embodies.
Ishan Kishan is more aggressive than Saha and has more international experience than Bharat
Kishan is a really tempting option if the management feels they want someone who can score quickly and make an impact, even turn the momentum back in India's favor, and the left-hander certainly can do it better than both Bharat and Saha,
And, unlike KS Bharat, Kishan would be not intimidated by the sight of Australian bowlers, some of whom he's faced in the IPL, or in making his India debut as Kishan has been playing for India for the past 22 months. India could play their own version of Bazball if they could get Kishan in the Test side and also give him the freedom to play his shots, and not make hasty decisions even if he fails. For, the gains are too big to be ignored if Kishan clicks in the Test setup.