New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS): Former India opener Aakash Chopra said he would prefer to have KS Bharat over Ishan Kishan as the wicketkeeper-batter for the upcoming four-match home Test series against Australia.
Chopra added that Bharat can keep the scoreboard moving with the bat and can handle the bowling of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja as a wicketkeeper on Indian pitches.
For India's Tests against Australia, starting from February 9 in Nagpur, Bharat and Ishan are the wicketkeeping options in the Rohit Sharma-led side as first-choice wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant is on the road to recovery after surviving a horrific car accident on December 30.
Bharat, who has made regular appearances for India A and averages 47.95 in first-class matches, had been the back-up to Pant for a long time in the Test team. He also impressed with his keeping skills when Wriddhiman Saha didn't take the gloves due to a stiff neck during India's first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur in November 2022.
Ishan, on the other hand, has been handed a maiden call-up to the Test squad after being in the white-ball sides for some time and is seen as more of a like-for-like replacement for Pant and averages 38.76 in first-class cricket.
"It is really unfortunate that Rishabh Pant isn't available for us at the moment. He is the kind of player who can play in all formats and is an excellent one too. What I feel is that we will see various players across the different formats. I would say KS Bharat and Ishan Kishan, both are in contention for Test cricket."
"If you need a better keeper then KS Bharat but if you need an explosive left-hand batter because we don't have a lefty in the top order, then I would say we can say, Ishan Kishan. Personally, my preference will be KS Bharat because he can keep the scoreboard ticking in Tests and we need someone who is going to be able to handle Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja's bowling behind the wicket," said Chopra on JioCinema's sports show 'Aakashvani'.
Asked about his choice of keepers for India in white-ball cricket, Chopra remarked, "In T20s, It's going to be a toss-up between Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson and ODIs will obviously feature KL Rahul behind the wicket, there is no question about it."
As of now, there is no clarity on when Pant will achieve full fitness and make a gradual return to the game. But Chopra thinks that the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter could be a potential captaincy candidate for India alongside young right handed-opener Shubman Gill.
"I don't think we will see a single captain for all formats just yet, I think those days are over. Rohit Sharma will be the Test team's captain till the WTC, that's not going to change - it is going to stay like that. Hardik Pandya is currently the captain in the T20 format, and I think he will continue to do so and in the ICC T20 World Cup 2024, you will see Pandya be the captain of the Indian team."
"In One-Day cricket, Rohit Sharma will continue to be the captain till the World Cup. But I think in the long term, in terms of India's captaincy, it will be Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant. These are my two candidates for India's captaincy in the future," he concluded.