In a bold display of confidence, the selectors and team management have made a resounding statement by choosing KL Rahul, despite his absence from competitive cricket since May. This vote of faith seems to be rooted in their awareness of India’s upcoming schedule, including the possibility of four Asia Cup games (with the potential for more if they reach the final) followed by three ODIs against Australia. This sequence of fixtures offers Rahul a substantial opportunity to prove his readiness for the challenges ahead.
It’s worth noting that teams have the flexibility to modify their squad without seeking ICC clearance until September 28, which coincides with the conclusion of the ODIs against Australia.
KL Rahul‘s transformation into a wicketkeeper-batter in the middle order began to take shape in January 2020, prompted by Rishabh Pant’s concussion. In response, Rahul stepped up, delivering a scintillating 52-ball 80 while batting at No. 5 during India’s series-levelling victory over Australia in Rajkot. Following this series, Virat Kohli vocally supported Rahul, emphasizing the importance of affording him more opportunities, both with the gloves and in the middle order, before making any judgments.
Though Kohli is no longer at the helm of the Indian cricket team, KL Rahul continues to enjoy unwavering support from the current team management. Since January 2020, in 17 innings at No. 5, Rahul boasts an impressive average of 56.53 and a striking rate of 99.45. This remarkable run includes seven half-centuries and a century. However, the path to reclaiming the No. 5 position may not be without its challenges.
Even Chief Selector Ajit Agarkar has refrained from definitively naming the first-choice wicketkeeper. This hesitation stems from the emergence of Ishan Kishan, the incumbent, who has bolstered his credentials in recent times. Kishan not only brings a left-handed dimension to India’s top order, which is currently missing, especially in the absence of Tilak Varma, but he has also showcased his adaptability in batting wherever the team requires him to.