KL Rahul as full-time wicket-keeper can be elixir to all of India's white-ball troubles
Rahul is expected to keep the wickets in the 2nd ODI in the absence of Rishabh Pant. If this can become a full-time solution, India will free up a spot which will allow them to include an extra batsman and impart immense balance to the side.
History tells that several game-changing scientific discoveries like radioactivity, penicillin and x-rays have been accidental. It seems that the universe is presenting Team India some signals with regard to their white-ball wicket-keeper.
Yes, KL Rahul had been in tremendous form and his consistency had made him tough to be sidelined but one was convinced that India would go with Shikhar Dhawan as Rohit Sharma's opening partner against Australia to honour their protocol of rightfully giving his place to a player returning after injury, the case with Dhawan in the ODI format.
Rahul did a tidy job in Mumbai
In a left-field move, Kohli decided to play all the three openers. Then, towards the end of the Indian innings, Rishabh Pant copped a blow on the head off Pat Cummins and was under observation for concussion. Rahul already being in the XI, did a fine job as a makeshift keeper. Although India lost the game without even putting up a fight, this is the biggest positive that they can take from Mumbai.
Update: Rishabh Pant has got a concussion after being hit on his helmet while batting. KL Rahul is keeping wickets in his absence. Pant is under observation at the moment. #TeamIndia #INDvAUS pic.twitter.com/JkVElMacQc— BCCI (@BCCI) January 14, 2020
Rishabh Pant has now been ruled out due to slight concussion for the second ODI in Rajkot and it is understood that KL Rahul will continue donning the wicket-keeping gloves.
This might see him batting at No. 4. With scores of 102, 77 and 47 in his last 3 ODIs, Rahul deserves this chance every bit.
Rahul occasionally keeps wickets for his IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab when Nicholas Pooran is not part of the playing XI. Recently, he did a fine job in the domestic T20 competition Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, keeping for his state Karnataka without any serious blemishes.
The coach open to trying it out
The idea of KL Rahul being considered as the wicketkeeper has been floated earlier by none other than Team India head coach and an influential personality in the think tank, Ravi Shastri. If Rahul can well take on the additional role, a lot of India's troubles will come to rest.
"It is an absolute option. You got to see where your strength is. If tomorrow there are a couple of guys in the middle order who are firing with unbelievable innings in the IPL. IPL will be a good judging ground. If you feel a guy who can multitask can be used at the top because there's some firepower at the back who are doing extremely well, then why not," head coach Shastri said in a recent interview.
If this becomes a long-term solution both in ODIs and T20Is, it would mean that the team can play an additional batsman - somebody like a Manish Pandey who has been in great form and will add immense balance to the side.
An extra specialist batsman will also free up space for playing a proper bowler. This would mean that India can finally play both Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, a combination they would have been wanting to bring together for the longest time but have resisted due to the limited batting ability of the two wrist spinners.
How another Rahul aced the role
The mind races back to the time when Sourav Ganguly coaxed Rahul Dravid into donnig the gloves and it worked wonders for the balance of the side.
Dravid went on to keep in 73 ODIs, claiming 71 catches and affecting 13 stumpings. He also has the fourth most dismissals among Indian wicket-keepers, a list led by MS Dhoni.
Dravid recalled some time ago, how he was asked to take on the responsibility and how it panned out. “I was asked, “Will you try?” The last time had done any sort of wicketkeeping, it was at the age of 15. I had given up wicketkeeping after that. But then, I was not that good a wicketkeeper. I’ll be very honest. I remember, we hired a wicket-keeping coach, a friend of John Wright’s for a series and two-three more sessions for me.
“I was good at catching the ball because I was a slip fielder but my feet movement was terrible. And keeping is a lot about your feet and getting your feet in the right place. Which is why I was terrible down the leg side. But yeah, it was nice and it was great. We could then give the opportunity to play an extra batsman,” The Wall said.
With the T20 World Cup already in the horizon, another Rahul offers an elixir that can bring an end to all of India's white-ball troubles.
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