KS Bharat with the Indian players© Twitter
When Ishant Sharma stood on his mark with the ball in his hand waiting to start the proceedings for India on Day 3 of the India vs New Zealand first Test in Kanpur, it was KS Bharat standing as wicketkeeper and not Wriddhiman Saha. A few minutes later BCCI clarified that Saha, India’s designated wicketkeeper for the series opener, has some stiffness in his neck and therefore Bharat has taken the gloves in place of him as a substitute. BCCI added that their medical team is “monitoring the progress” of Saha but the extent of his injury was not clarified.
“Wriddhiman Saha has stiffness in his neck. The BCCI medical team is treating him and monitoring his progress. KS Bharat will be keeping wickets in his absence,” tweeted BCCI on Saturday.
— BCCI (@BCCI) November 27, 2021
Saha got an opportunity to get back in the Test XI after Rishabh Pant was rested for the two-match series against New Zealand. The Bengal stumper, regarded as one of the best wicketkeepers going around in world cricket, has not been at his best with the bat of late. His dry-patch continued when he was dismissed for 1 by Tim Southee on Day 2.
Bharat, on the other hand, got his first opportunity to keep wickets for India, albeit as a substitute. The Andhra Pradesh wicketkeeper-batter has been knocking on the doors for quite some time now. He has been a consistent performer in domestic cricket and also for India A.
The 26-year-old averages 37.24 with the bat in first-class cricket and has nine hundreds to his name. Bharat is also the only keeper to have a first-class triple hundred to his credit.
In the recently-concluded UAE leg of the IPL, Bharat got the opportunity to bat at No.3 for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In 8 matches, he scored 191 runs at an average of 38.20 and a strike rate of 122.43.
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