India have called up wicketkeeper-batsman KS Bharat as a backup to KL Rahul for the second ODI of the series against Australia. Since Rishabh Pant is not available for selection in the second ODI, the team management decided to rope in a replacement for just one ODI. As per a report in Mumbai Mirror, Bharat was in Hyderabad when he was asked to join the national team.
He is unlikely to be part of the playing XI but can keep wickets for Rahul if he sits out during the match. As per ICC’s rules, players who are not a part of playing XI can also don the gloves.
Bharat, who was close to Test selection last year, isn’t in the scheme of thing in white-ball cricket but as said, he will come for Rahul if he sits out at any point. Bharat is a part of India A squad for two unofficial Test matches against New Zealand A and remains close to selection in the longest format.
It will be the second time that Bharat will join Team India as a backup. During the pink-ball Test against Bangladesh, the team management called him as a backup to Wriddhiman Saha as Rishabh – along with Shubman Gill – was released to play domestic cricket.
It remains to be seen if Bharat also flies with the team to Bengaluru for the final ODI. As of now, Rishabh is in NCA and is fit for selection for the third ODI, which could mean that Bharat might return home after the second ODI.
Rishabh’s absence will see either of Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav getting a chance in the must-win game. Pandey has done well of late and also played a pivotal role in India posting a big total third T20I against Sri Lanka.
Jadhav, on the other hand, can chip in with few overs which might go in his favour. Shivam Dube is also available for selection but the team management isn’t looking at him in the 50-over format as Hardik Pandya is likely to make a comeback for New Zealand ODIs.
The second ODI of the series takes place today. Australia lead the series 1-0.