Ind A vs NZ A, KS Bharat

Wicket-keeper batter KS Bharat earned his first India A call-up in July 2018. In November 2019, he was part of an Indian test squad for the first time. Since then, he has been a regular member of A teams and the India Test squads, but is still waiting for his official India debut.

However, that does not deter Bharat. He believes in the age-old philosophy of ‘que sera sera’ [Whatever Will Be, Will Be]. He sounds philosophical when he says, “It’s easy to get emotional or disappointed, but the most important thing for me is to work hard. As long as I do that, I’m happy. To be successful in any field, you have to be patient.” There are no shortcuts to get there. I just do what I can and leave the decisions to those who should.”

Bharat was India A’s favorite goalkeeper during the ongoing unofficial Tests against New Zealand A. He got his first long batting chance in the rain-stricken game at Hubballi, scoring an unbeaten 74 and later taking the catch from Joe Carter , the hero of the first match, as the first of only two wickets to have fallen. After the match, Bharat embraced the importance of the A program for beginner cricketers.

“Over the past four years, I have participated in several A-tours,” says Bharat. “It provides a lot of exposure and I think it has really helped a lot of cricketers to be ready for that step into international cricket. These matches will teach you all about how to handle situations that you are likely to encounter when playing for India. VVS sir [current India A coach VVS Laxman] called this the platform to test our readiness for the highest level. For this even [Rahul] Dravide mister often repeated that this was the best way to prepare us to do our best in any situation.

“For example, when I had the chance to stay in the Test against New Zealand last year, I was not impressed with the situation because I had played with or against different players before. This is the aim of the A tour: to make sure you don’t get caught playing for the national team and we’ve also had several internationals come to play with us in the A team, for example we have here Kuldeep Yadav and Shardul Thakur some senior players have also been part of our changing rooms on A tours, and that also makes you feel comfortable when you walk into the India changing room.”

Bharat got that exposure to India’s dressing room during the Kanpur Test against New Zealand in November 2021. He replaced the injured Wriddhiman Saha and helped himself to three catches, even though it won’t be considered a Test cap for him. 2021 was especially memorable for Bharat as he had a good run in the Indian Premier League with Royal Challengers Bangalore, also celebrating his 191 runs averaging 38 in the UAE stage with a pair of match winning punches.

“During the lockdown, I had the opportunity to work on my T20 skills,” says Bharat. “I worked on some different routines because I understood my game a little better. Playing for RCB was also a privilege. To practice and spend time with Virat [Kohli]AB [de Villiers] and [Glenn] Maxwell was a great education in itself. I took a lot of confidence from that and that was reflected in the way I hit there.”

A shift to Delhi Capitals in 2022 saw opportunities dry up for Bharat, no surprise given the franchise is led by an Indian wicketkeeper batter in Rishabh Pant. “I think you should see non-selection as something constructive sometimes,” says Bharat. “You stagnate as a player if you put it in a negative light.

“My concern is always to make sure my team wins on any given day, whether I’m in the XI or not. The team on any given day will depend on the circumstances and the specific team composition requirements. When a franchise selects 22 at 25 players, it means they are confident in their abilities.

“You just have to wait your turn. And there are never shortcuts to that.”

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