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News

'The choice is his' - Dravid happy to wait for Kishan to return to cricket

Dravid pleased with Bharat's keeping, but expects more with the bat: "He's had the opportunity to make better contributions"

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
05-Feb-2024
At the end of India's series-levelling victory over England in Visakhapatnam, Rahul Dravid touched on the issue of Ishan Kishan, who recently opted for a break from cricket, saying that the management wasn't "forcing him to do anything".
Kishan was with India's T20I squad in South Africa in December 2023 but did not play any of the three games. He was India's Test wicketkeeper on their tour of the Caribbean in July, but was not considered for this series, or the previous one in South Africa, because he had requested the BCCI for some time off. His last competitive game was in the T20I series against Australia at home in November last year - he hasn't turned out in the ongoing Ranji Trophy so far.
When asked about the situation after the Visakhapatnam Test win, Dravid said, "There's a way back for anyone and everyone. It's not that we rule out anybody from anything. I just don't want to go on labouring about the Ishan Kishan point. I've tried to explain it as best as I can. The point was that, you know, he requested a break. We were happy to give him the break and whenever he was ready… I didn't say he has to play domestic cricket. I said, whenever he's ready he needs to play some cricket and come back, and the choice is his.
"We're not forcing him to do anything and we are in touch with him. It's not that we're not in touch. We know what it is, but he hasn't yet started playing, right? So, at the moment, it's not something that we would consider because, you know, he's maybe not ready. He decides when he wants to be ready and we've got options obviously with Rishabh [Pant] injured and stuff. So I'm sure the selectors will weigh all the options."
India had picked KS Bharat, KL Rahul (who kept in South Africa), and Dhruv Jurel as wicketkeepers for the first two Tests against England. Bharat played both Tests, taking six catches making scores of 41, 28, 17 and 6. He took India closer than they might have expected to in the chase in Hyderabad after the top order struggled to deal with Tom Hartley's left-arm spin.
In Visakhapatnam, however, Bharat fell on the stroke of stumps on the first day after getting a start. The pitch was fairly flat at that point and India had Yashasvi Jaiswal at the other end playing a blinder. India went to stumps at 336 for 6 and were eventually bowled out for 396. In the second innings, he played a bit of a loose shot, opening up the tail for England to target. India's lead at that point was 371. They were bowled out with a lead of 398.
Dravid conceded that Bharat's batting needed a little bit of work but backed him for what he did behind the stumps, which included a fine running and diving catch somewhere near short leg to help India take the first second-innings wicket on their way to levelling the series.
"Young players need time to develop and they're growing at their own pace," Dravid said. "Of course, as a coach, you really want players who come in to be able to grab the opportunities they get and be able to perform. His keeping, to be honest, in the Test matches has been really good. I think he'll also feel that, with his batting, I think he'll agree that he certainly could have done better.
"There were opportunities. Sometimes he's played on some difficult tracks, to be honest, but sometimes he's had the opportunity to make a little bit better contributions."

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo