New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) The recent overseas tours, particularly to South Africa, prompted India to prioritise batting depth and deploy makeshift wicketkeepers, sacrificing one spinner to include an extra fast bowler.
Now, with the return to spin-friendly home conditions, the focus shifts to the wicketkeeper’s primary role and Indian stick with wicket-keeper batsman K.S. Bharat and going with the batsman K.L. Rahul.
Rahul, who assumed the wicketkeeping responsibilities during the overseas tours, finds his place potentially under threat as India contemplates the return of a specialist wicketkeeper.
The choice between Rahul and wicketkeeper-batsman K.S. Bharat becomes crucial as Bharat boasts extensive experience as a designated wicketkeeper in Indian conditions.
Earlier, former Indian wicketkeeper Saba Karim noted that while Rahul is adept at wicketkeeping, the demands might be different in home series, emphasising the need for a regular keeper.
Bharat, having served as Rishabh Pant’s understudy and demonstrated proficiency with the gloves, emerges as a strong contender for the role.
India faces the challenge of accommodating both Rahul and the promising batsman Shreyas Iyer in the playing XI. The temptation to utilise Rahul as the keeper arises from the prospect of bolstering the batting lineup down to No. 6, with all-rounders at 7, 8, and 9.
However, the decision to go with Bharat extends more beyond the wicketkeeper’s batting ability over their primary role behind the stumps.
The wicketkeeper’s role extends beyond catches, stumpings, and runs; they serve as a crucial source of information for the bowlers.
Sunil Joshi, former India spinner and chief selector, highlights the wicketkeeper’s role as a center of attraction, providing insights into the opposition’s batting techniques.
The evolving dynamics of team selection raise questions about whether teams now view the wicket keeper position differently, placing a higher emphasis on batting prowess. However, past selections indicate that India has often chosen the best keeper at home and a better batsman abroad.