Team India wicketkeeper-batter KS Bharat recently spoke about his versatility in the longest format of the game in terms of approach as well as batting position. The Andhra-born player has been part of the Indian squad as their second-choice wicket-keeper ever since stalwart Wriddhiman Saha was phased out of the team.
Bharat had an eventful cameo with the gloves during the first Test against New Zealand in 2021, allowing the management to entrust him as the backup wicket-keeping option, behind Rishabh Pant.
However, the Delhi-born player is currently undergoing treatment to cure the injuries he sustained following a gruesome car crash on December 30.
With the Delhi-born wicketkeeper being ruled out for over six months, KS Bharat could be in contention for the crucial Border-Gavaskar series, beginning in February 2023.
Assessing his wicketkeeping and batting ability, KS Bharat told PTI after Day 3 of the Ranji Trophy game between Andhra and Delhi at the Arun Jaitley Stadium:
"I have always considered myself as 100 per cent keeper and 100 per cent batter. I don't consider myself a 70 per cent batter or a 30 per cent keeper. Whenever I walk into the field, I am as good as an opening batter and whenever I keep I think that I am the best keeper in whatever conditions are there or circumstances."
Coming into bat at No.5 for his state team, Bharat scored 80 runs off 130 deliveries. His knock, along with fifties from skipper Hanuma Vihari and Chengalpet Gnasheshwar, allowed Andhra to post 433-9 in the first innings.
He scored a crucial 89 in Andhra's local clash against Hyderabad to close out 2022. He also made 77 runs for India A in their unofficial Test against Bangladesh A.
"You cannot say you are only a T20 specialist or can play in one fashion" - KS Bharat
The wicketkeeper was recently roped in by the Gujarat Titans (GT) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 mini-auction for a sum of ₹1.20 crore after being released by the Delhi Capitals (DC).
Regarded as an all-format player, he had a solid campaign for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the 2021 season, but could not capitalize on the same.
With Rishabh Pant seemingly out of the equation, the team management will be looking for a candidate to add an attacking element to their batting unit with the ability to keep wickets as well.
Believing that he fits the mold because of his ability to play in any situation that is presented before him, Bharat said:
"Whatever the game demands, you have to step up. You cannot say you are only a T20 specialist or can play in one fashion. I have been fortunate to understand that from an early age."
KS Bharat continued:
"If a Test match is to be drawn and I have to bat four hours straight, then I have to do that or if the team is chasing on day four, needing 100 off 10 overs, I have to hit with that strike rate so that the team benefits. End of the day, we play to win, there is no playing safe. If the game demands you have to score at 10 runs per over (in the longer format), you have to."
Despite Pant's absence in the Border-Gavaskar series, Bharat's place in the playing XI is not secured by any means. Fellow in-form wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan could be fast-tracked into the red-ball setup as well, providing a left-handed batting option in the process.
Will the Andhra wicket-keeper make it to the playing XI for the four-match Test series against Australia? Let us know what you think.
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