Having made his debut for India earlier in the series during the Nagpur Test, Kona Srikar Bharat has been a much talked about addition in the Indian team during the ongoing Test series against Australia.
The 29-year-old had earned plaudits from the likes India wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik on air for his exploits behind the stumps.
On the eve of the third Test, Bharat was seen participating in an interesting wicketkeeping drill, with markers set on the wicket to help him identify the line and length of the delivery.
Keeping it safe – the @KonaBharat way! 👌👌#TeamIndia | #INDvAUS | @mastercardindia pic.twitter.com/ea2g2LGiwm
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 28, 2023
With throwdowns being fed, Bharat was made to practice low bounce turning deliveries that are tough to keep wickets to and can easily deceive the batter as well as the wicketkeeper.
Apart from his role as a keeper-batter, the Andhra player has been handed an additional responsibility in the team as ‘the best judge’ for taking DRS calls.
“There’s a clear message in our group: only the bowler, keeper and captain will discuss what is the outcome of that ball. Unless the other players feel like there’s a definite bat or it has hit the pad, it’s usually just the three of us,” he shared in the pre-match press conference. The man in the thick of things hinted that DRS will always have a layer of intrigue. Except for the umpire no one is in a better position. The bowler is in that rhythm so he’s moving, the keeper is standing behind the batsman and the captain is moving around as well. We know how crucial those calls are going to be but you cannot always be right.”
“Rohit bhai and myself had a word. He said, ‘you are the best judge, as you stay close to the batsman. So whatever you feel, just give your opinion,” Bharat said in the pre-match press conference on Monday. “You, me and the bowler – the three of us will discuss, and we will take a call’. He said, ‘don’t worry about whether it is going to go our way or their way. Just back your instinct – whatever you feel, just put it across’. So the message is clear.”
Reflecting on the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy where India have beaten Australia by six wickets to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series, he said, “I enjoyed playing whatever I did in Delhi. It was about keeping it simple and backing your defence. Wickets are not unplayable, just have to back your defence.”