Former Indian batter Wasim Jaffer believes Ishan Kishan should start as the wicketkeeper-batter for India ahead of KS Bharat in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia.
Given the long-term absence of Rishabh Pant from the Indian team due to a horrific car accident in December last year, the big question for the Indian management is to select a suitable wicketkeeper for the WTC final at the Oval.
KS Bharat, who played four Tests against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy earlier this year, was named in India's initial 15-member squad for the WTC final. Ishan Kishan, who is yet to play a red-ball game for India, was named as the injury replacement for KL Rahul.
During the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2023, Srikar Bharat scored 101 runs in four matches at an average of 20.2, including his best score of 44.
Meanwhile, Ishan Kishan has scored 2985 runs in 48 first-class matches at an average of 38.76 with the help of six centuries and 16 half-centuries.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda ahead of the WTC final, Wasim Jaffer explained why Ishan Kishan would be a better choice for the wicketkeeper's role.
Jaffer told Sportskeeda:
"I would go with Ishan Kishan as I believe that he has the X-factor in himself. As a batsman there is a bit of edge compared to KS Bharat. If gets the rhythm then he can make runs quickly. He plays well against fast bowling."
The former Indian opener added:
"Rishabh Pant is obviously in the high-class category but I feel Ishan Kishan has got that X-factor in him that he can change the course of the match if he bats for two sessions."
"It will be a challenge for Ishan Kishan to keep in England" - Wasim Jaffer
Keeping the wickets in England is a challenging task because of the rapid movement of the ball right from the word go. The keeper has to be alert and agile at the same time to avoid leaking byes.
If Ishan Kishan makes the cut in India's playing XI, then he will be making his Test debut in the challenging English conditions.
However, Wasim Jaffer pointed out that even KS Bharat will play his first Test in England if the latter gets picked. Speaking about the challenges for a wicket-keeper in the demanding conditions of England, Jaffer said:
"I think it will be a challenge (for Ishan Kishan) and there is no doubt about it. KS Bharat has also never played in England, so it will be the same challenge for him."
"Keeping in England is not that simple because the ball swings a lot even after passing the stumps. Whoever you pick among them will play their first Test in England. I would go with Ishan Kishan because if he goes on then he can probably cause more damage than KS Bharat."
India will play their second WTC final after they lost to New Zealand in Southampton a couple of years ago, while Australia will make their first appearance in the summit clash