Updated: Jan 17
Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: Ishan Kishan or KS Bharat, who would be India's wicket-keeper in Tests against Australia? Suryakumar Yadav's selection ahead of Sarfaraz Khan raises eyebrows.
When India’s squad for the first two Tests of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23 against Australia was announced, a few selections did raise eyebrows. For example, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan have been rewarded with a place in the Test squad following their impressive performances in limited overs cricket. On the other hand, Prithvi Shaw who cracked a 383-ball 379 in his last Ranji Trophy innings for Mumbai recently to become the second-highest run-scorer in this tournament, does not get a place in the Test squad but is selected for the T20I series against New Zealand. Sarfaraz Khan, who has been a consistent run-scorer in domestic cricket for the last few seasons, has once again been ignored.
Nevertheless, the squad for the first two Tests against Australia gives a lot of selection headaches for the team management in choosing the best XI. Ishan Kishan and KS Bharat have been added to the India squad as wicket-keepers. Rishabh Pant, who is out of action after he met with a car accident last month, It would be interesting to see who India opt for in Tests against Australia.
So, who between Ishan Kishan and KS Bharat should play in Tests against Australia?
What works for Ishan Kishan
Ishan Kishan is a like-for-like replacement for Pant. Both are attacking left-arm batters and can turn around the match with their counter-attacking innings. Kishan is also in tremendous form, coming off a double ton against Bangladesh in an ODI, and also scored 132 in his next domestic innings while appearing for Jharkhand against Kerala in the first Ranji Trophy match of the 2022-23 season. Kishan also keeps to his state-mate Shahbaz Nadeem, who has 504 first-class wickets so far. So, Kishan could be counted on to deliver with both bat and gloves in the Tests against Australia.
What works against Ishan Kishan
Well, Kishan might be the limited overs cricket’s newest star for India, but he is still short of experience in first-class cricket as compared to KS Bharat. Kishan has played 48 First-Class matches compared to 86 by Bharat. Kishan has scored 2985 runs in FC cricket to go with 99 catches and 11 stumpings, while Bharat has scored 4707 runs with 296 catches and 35 stumpings.
Also, keeping to wily and crafty spinners such as Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav poses a different challenge altogether. Can Kishan live up to this challenge or will India back the more experienced keeper Bharat come the Nagpur Test?
What works for KS Bharat
Bharat has been an understudy to Pant for quite some time. He didn’t get a chance to play as Pant didn’t give any room for his replacement to take his place as Pant kept and batted brilliantly both home and away. So, Bharat should be ahead of Kishan in the pecking order to replace Pant if the Delhi keeper-batter is not available.
Also, if it comes to matching the batting firepower of Pant, Bharat too is a quality attacking batter in the same vein as Kishan. He is also much more experienced in terms of first-class matches than Kishan. If one goes by the current BCCI’s stance that “the grind of the domestic season will be given more weightage”, Bharat should be selected ahead of Kishan in the playing XI for the Test series against Australia. His recent domestic performance is also good as he scored three fifties in his last six innings in first-class games for Andhra Pradesh.
Statistical snapshot of first-class performances of Kishan and Bharat
What goes against KS Bharat
If India choose to go for a like-for-like replacement for Pant, Kishan is the favourite to be selected as the wicketkeeper in the playing XI. Also, Bharat will be making his international debut if he gets the chance, while Ishan Kishan is playing for India for almost two years now in limited overs internationals. So, Kishan has some exposure to international cricket, unlike Bharat. Hence, the team management might go for Kishan considering the Test series against Australia will decide India’s candidature for World Test Championship (WTC) 2021-23 Final.
Suryakumar Yadav vs Sarfaraz Khan
Suryakumar Yadav has lit up the international cricketing scene with his 360-degrees batting and has been rewarded with a spot in the Test squad. On the other hand, Sarfaraz Khan who has been one of the top run-scorers in the last few Ranji seasons, has been ignored again. This goes against BCCI’s recent stance of “the grind of the domestic season will be given more weightage”.
Here is Sarfaraz’s record in Ranji Trophy for the past few seasons
It may be argued that SKY can bring more power and pace to Test innings as he can take on the opposition bowlers and counter-attack them just like he does in T20Is. But Sarfaraz too has a good strike rate in Tests, and can also dictate terms to the opposition bowlers. Sarfaraz boasts of a strike rate of 69.89 in 36 first-class matches as compared to 63.56 of SKY in 79 first-class matches.
Both batters have been among the runs recently in first-class matches. Sarfaraz Khan has 2 tons and 1 fifty in his last 6 first-class innings, while SKY has scored two fifties in his last 3 first-class innings. But yes, SKY has much more experience playing first-class games compared to Sarfaraz.
SKY and Sarfaraz’s career records in first-class games
India's squad for the first two Tests against Australia: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Suryakumar Yadav
The first Test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23 between India and Australia will be played at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Nagpur from February 9-13. The second Test will be played in Delhi from February 17-21. In more than a week’s time, the third Test will be played in Dharamsala from March 1-5, followed by the fourth Test in Ahmedabad from March 9-13.