Windies tour: Andhra's K.S. Bharat in the race for Test spot

Rishabh Pant is likely to be the first-choice wicket-keeper while Wriddhiman Saha will be determined to make a comeback for the upcoming tour of West Indies, but Andhra's keeper-batsman Kona Srikar Bharat has made a good case for the selection.

In the past 12 years, Bharat has played 11 unofficial Tests against the ‘A’ teams of West Indies, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England Lions.   -  KIRAN BAKLE

Ten days have passed with bated anticipation after M.S. Dhoni returned to the Old Trafford dressing room falling a run out-victim to Martin Guptill in the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand.

The cricketing fraternity, somewhat disappointed with the way he batted in the World Cup, believed that he would announce his retirement from white-ball cricket after having bid adieu from the traditional Test cricket after the second Test of the 2014 series against Australia in Melbourne.

Those who have wished Dhoni well right though his spectacular career believe that he would not allow his procrastination to be a stumbling block to the Indian team selection.

With the BCCI president and secretary rendered irrelevant by certain actions of the Committee of Administrators (CoA), only the chief selector M.S.K. Prasad can talk it over with Dhoni about his future with the national team. 

Team selection

It may have already happened or will happen before the selection committee meets here on Sunday to pick the Indian team for the West Indies tour that involves three ODIS and T20Is each and two Tests, all from Aug. 3 to Sept. 3.

The committee is looking at a basket that’s not really full, but offers options. One is Andhra’s wicketkeeper-batsman K.S. Bharat. The rationale is that performances for India-A should be given meaning and recognition.

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If there is an award for an India-A player of the year, the 25-year-old Bharat would be among the front-runners. Rishabh Pant, though, would be the first-choice wicketkeeper for the Test series. He scored an unbeaten 159 in the fourth and final Test against Australia in Sydney. In fact, Pant should figure in all three teams.

Bharat scored 686 runs with three centuries and two half-centuries, held 41 catches and effected six stumpings for India 'A' in the past twelve months.   -  k. bhagya prakash

 

The Prasad-led selection committee has chosen Bengal’s Wriddhiman Saha and Bharat in the India-A team for the three multi-day matches against the West Indies-A to be played in July-August in Antigua, Port of Spain and Tarouba.

Saha, 34, is trying to stage a comeback after an injury forced him out of the team after the first Test against South Africa at Cape Town in January 2018. After a long period of rehabilitation, Saha returned to active cricket during the IPL and, most importantly, in the Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament for Bengal.

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In the last 12 months, Bharat has played 11 unofficial Tests against the ‘A’ teams of West Indies, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England Lions, scored 686 runs with three centuries and two half-centuries, held 41 catches and effected six stumpings.

Impressive record

Overall he has an impressive record of 65 First Class matches, 3798 runs with eight centuries, 20 fifties and 223 catches and 27 stumping and thus has made a strong claim for a Test squad spot.

He has scored three centuries against Australia-A (106 at Alur), England Lions (142 at Wayanad) and Sri Lanka-A (117 at Hubli), and these good numbers cannot be ignored.