‘Has been playing for a while’: Veteran India spinner opens up on Ishan Kishan vs KS Bharat debate for WTC Final


Former Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has weighed in on who should keep wickets for India in the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia. Singh believes that KS Bharat, rather than Ishan Kishan, should be the one to take on the role. The highly anticipated match is set to take place on June 7 at the Kia Oval in London.

With Rishabh Pant out of the squad, India had initially selected Bharat and KL Rahul as their wicketkeepers. However, Rahul sustained a thigh injury during the IPL 2023 last month, leading to Kishan being called up as his replacement. While Kishan has yet to make his Test debut, Bharat has already played all four Tests of the 2022-23 Border Gavaskar Trophy.

During a Q&A session on Star Sports, Harbhajan expressed his preference for both Wriddhiman Saha and Rahul over Bharat, but not Kishan. Saha has been out of favor since 2021, while Rahul’s injury has put his availability for the WTC final in doubt.

“That’s because KS Bharat has been playing for a while,” he said. “Had Wriddhiman Saha been there, I would have said he should play because he’s more experienced and a better wicketkeeper. If KL Rahul was fit, I would have played him ahead of KS Bharat at No. 5-6 because he’s an opener and his game is good. He would’ve been my wicketkeeper too,” Singh said.

Bharat’s performance with the bat against Australia was lackluster, as he only managed to score 101 runs from six innings, with an average of 20.20. Nevertheless, he is regarded as a reliable wicketkeeper and has played almost twice as many first-class matches as Kishan.

The topic of discussion arose when former Australian captain Ricky Ponting suggested that India should consider playing Kishan, citing his aggressive batting as a potential game-changer.

Harbhajan Singh stated that he would opt for a bowling combination consisting of two spinners, namely Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, only under specific circumstances. These circumstances include a dry pitch and hot weather conditions.

During the previous World Test Championship final against New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton in 2021, India chose to play with three seamers and both Ashwin and Jadeja. Unfortunately, this strategy did not prove successful as India lost the match by eight wickets.

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