India v NZ – 1st test – 3rd day

Chances are KS Bharat will never get a Test cap. He may not play next week in Mumbai, if he plays Wriddhiman Saha, then Rishabh Pant will take over the gloves. More, on Saturday in Kanpur, showed the incredible depth of Indian cricket by coming in as a substitute and pulling out three sensational shutdowns on difficult ground for wicket retention. Much like Shreyas Iyer, who came in for four missing strikers – Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Hanuma Vihari – and scored a century on his Test debut.
The thing is, Bharat is not a spring hen. He turned 28 in October, but was kept by a 24-year-old and a 37-year-old, both of whom were phenomenal gatekeepers for India. Pant is the absolute changer of the bat game, the only Indian goalkeeper to score for centuries in Australia and England. He turned India’s tour of Australia with a stick, and then repeated it at home against England. Saha is arguably the best glove cleaner in the world, with all due respect Support Nathan Lyon his former captain and colleague. Saha himself might have played more Tests if it weren’t for MS Dhoni.

Bharat, recognized by the previous selection committee led by MSK Prasad as Saha’s successor, takes over Saha as a glove master. Back in 2018, when India sent Dinesha Karthika as a backup for Tests in England, Bharat was next in line as the Indian A wickekeeper on a shadow tour. However, injuries on the Test side meant that India probably wanted someone who had been the center of attention before, so they accelerated Panta.

Pant grabbed his chance with a hundred in The Oval, and Bharat, like many Indian cricketers, had no choice but to wait. Pant has only just rested, and Bharat has arrived in the main lineup. Saha’s stiff neck put Bharata on the test field for the first time.

If his clean play on low ball hits hadn’t already done so, Bharat’s sensational catch from the bushes that gave India its first breakthrough on the third day caught my eye. Not only was he practically gliding on the ground, it was a deliberate move that didn’t turn around and take up a healthy outer edge. Bharat followed the movement with his hands as he remained low enough to catch. His left knee was on the ground when he finished it. Preparing for the catch was important: R Ashwin hit this with a parallel stitch, which meant he wanted to give him the best chance to go straight ahead. Bharat did not dedicate himself to the break as much as the hitter, Will Young, who hit on 89.

Next was Axar Patel’s fast delivery that turned out more than Ross Taylor expected and made a big diversion. Maybe the slow terrain helped him, which gave him time to move with the deviation. The upper body moved nicely towards the point with the ball as he took it with his soft hands. That came after what could technically be called a delay for Taylor when he jumped down the field and survived. Quite unbelievable, that the blinded Bharat was still following the line of the ball as it passed between Taylor’s legs, but the inner edge moved it away from Bharat’s gloves. The catch has fallen, some might call it.

Bharat continued this by knocking Tom Latham off the bottom edge, watching the ball until the last moment and showing quick hands. The fact that Bharat did all this on a day when India could not afford to make mistakes makes it even more special. It was a slow, low ground on which the New Zealand openers gave 151.

One of three things could happen next week. Saha is not recovering and Bharat is officially getting test statistics. Saha is recovering and Bharat is giving up despite doing a great job of helping India reverse the situation in Kanpur. Saha is recovering and India decides to look to the future and puts Bharata in Mumbai and a replacement for Pant in South Africa. The luxury for team management is that they will have a man well equipped for the job in all circumstances.


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