India easily advanced to the World Test Championship final, which will be held at The Oval beginning on June 7, despite the fourth Test ending in a tie. This occurred during the lunch break of the final day of the Test between India and Australia, which followed New Zealand’s victory over Sri Lanka in the opening test. Regardless of the outcome at the Narendra Modi Stadium, it forced Sri Lanka to withdraw from the contest and advanced India to the World Test Championship championship match.
After the last Test resulted in a draw, India was able to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by a score of 2-1. The WTC final, for which India would have to prepare extensively given the intervening two months of the IPL, immediately came into focus after that. The loss of Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant, two of Team India’s most important players, would be their biggest concern. Both players have been sidelined for a considerable amount of time due to injuries, and it is unclear when they will be able to rejoin the Indian team.
KS Bharat replaced Pant, however, he could not do well with the bat and had trouble keeping wickets against rank turners. While spin is unlikely to be supported by the WTC final pitch, attention is still being paid to Bharat’s batting, which has been a source of concern. Given that Pant was India’s top hitter in Test matches played in foreign countries, finding a replacement would undoubtedly be difficult.
While the woes continue to trouble India, legendary Indian batter Sunil Gavaskar shared his opinion regarding the choice of India’s wicketkeeper-batter for the big match. Considering his latest performance in England, Gavaskar suggested that KL Rahul could be seen as the frontrunner for the slot and should be kept in mind while picking up the playing XI. “You can see KL Rahul as a wicketkeeper. 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 really 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,” Gavaskar was quoted as saying to Sports Tak.
After the first two Tests of the Australia series, Rahul lost his vice-captaincy and was pulled from the starting lineup. In his last 10 innings of Test play, he had difficulty going over the 30-run threshold. Rahul’s Test position appears to be at risk, despite the fact that he is India’s first-choice keeper in ODIs and has a solid record in English conditions. He had previously earned a position in the Test squad, though, after playing effectively during India’s previous tour to England.
Sunil Gavaskar also reiterated what Dinesh Karthik had said during the commentary about Bharat’s wicketkeeping. Gavaskar claimed that when the ball spins, a wicketkeeper’s abilities are put to the test, and this is where Bharat fell short. Gavaskar also mentioned that if India does not want to go with Rahul for the wicketkeeper position, they may consider playing Ishan Kishan as well instead of picking up Bharat. He also added that both Rahul and Kishan are better battered than Bharat.
“Dinesh Karthik summed up the problems with his wicketkeeping quite beautifully (during commentary). The real test of a wicketkeeper is on pitches like these where the ball is turning. If you look at Travis Head’s dismissal, when the ball turned and hit his stumps, KS Bharat’s gloves were nowhere near the ball. That means, if the ball hadn’t hit the stumps, it would have resulted in 4 byes. This is definitely a cause for concern. Whether they will select him in the XI or not is up to the selection committee but in England, you won’t get pitches where the keeper has to stand up to the stumps. In that case, you can pick KL Rahul as a wicketkeeper and even Ishan Kishan can be considered. Their batting is better than Bharat’s,” Gavaskar said.