WTC 2021-23 final: Who can be Team India's wicket-keeper?
India and Australia will be facing each other in the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 final at the Oval, starting June 7. India, who beat Australia 2-1 in the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy, will be without two genuine match-winners in the form of Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah with long-term injuries. Mainly, it's the keeping slot that poses serious questions. We decode India's options.
Why does this story matter?
- Pant suffered a severe car accident back in December 2022 and was ruled out since then, missing several assignments, including the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
- India included KS Bharat in the playing XI for the Australia series and his returns were paltry. He also looked a bit short behind the stumps.
- Should India go and back him or think about another solution remains to be seen.
Bharat failed to impress versus Australia
Bharat failed to impress with the bat versus Australia, scoring 8, 6, 23*, 17, 3, and 44. He has 101 runs at 20.20 across six innings. Although the surface at the Oval will suit pacers more rather than spin, Bharat's ability in testing conditions against a world class Aussie attack is questionable. His batting will be a major focus in that number six position.
India will miss Pant dearly
Pant has been a top-notch performer for India in the longest format, scoring 2,271 runs at 43.67. His numbers away in both England and Australia are impressive. In England, he has 556 runs at 32.70, smashing two tons and two fifties. In Australia, he has 624 runs at 62.40 (1 hundred). Besides, Pant also has a century in South Africa.
Bharat played a warm-up match in England last year
During India's rescheduled Test versus England in 2022, Bharat was part of the squad and played in a practice match. He scored 43 and 70* versus Leicestershire. If he does get an opportunity, those dual knocks will be playing in his mind.
Legend Sunil Gavaskar backs KL Rahul to be India's keeper
Sunil Gavaskar told Sports Tak, "You can see KL Rahul as a wicket-keeper. If he bats at No. 5 or 6 in at the Oval (in the WTC final) then our batting will be stronger. Because he batted well in England last year. He scored a century at the Lord's. Keep KL Rahul in mind when you pick your XI for the WTC final."
What's the situation with Rahul?
KL Rahul batted as an opener in the first two games versus the Aussies, getting 20, 17, and 1. He was subsequently dropped for the remaining games as Shubman Gill replaced him. Rahul will be in the Indian squad for the World Test Championship final and he can be used as a keeper. He has managed 2,642 runs at 33.34.
Rahul's performance in England
In nine matches on English soil, Rahul has accumulated 614 runs at 34.11. He has hammered two tons and a fifty. In 2021-22, he played four matches versus England, scoring 315 runs. Before that he toured England in 2018, scoring 299 runs.
Kishan is waiting to make his Test debut
Ishan Kishan is another option for India in the wicket-keeping department. He warmed the bench in the series versus Australia. Kishan offers his power-hitting lower down the order and can be an option ahead of Rahul and Bharat. He is yet to make his debut for India in Test cricket. Kishan owns 2,985 runs in FC cricket in 48 games at 38.76.
Rahul can be the option for India: Author's verdict
Rahul can be India's choice as the numero uno wicket-keeper in the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 final. He has two hundreds in England and knows the conditions there. Also, Rahul has batted in numerous positions so this can allow Gill to open. India need a cushion and Rahul can provide the same as a batter as Gavaskar mentioned.
World Test Championship 2021-23 final: India's probable XI
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj