The ‘Yes Man’ of Indian cricket presently, opener KL Rahul is now the first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman in the side, backed by skipper Virat Kohli and the management to bat at number 5 position.
In the absence of MS Dhoni and injured Hardik Pandya, the Indians have been found wanting in the finishing department. In the limited opportunities presented to Rahul so far, the Karnataka stalwart registered two impressive knocks at staggering strike rates.
Lokesh Rahul scored a fluent knock of 80 off just 52 balls in the Rajkot ODIs. The classy stroke maker backed it up with yet another finishing knock of 88 off 64 deliveries at Hamilton on Wednesday.
Rahul was nominated as the stand-in wicketkeeper at Wankhede against Australia after Rishabh Pant received a telling blow to his head. Since then, Pant has found it difficult to retain his gloves from Rahul in ODIs.
However, former Indian cricketers Gautam Gambhir and Aakash Chopra did not seem amused about the idea of KL Rahul going down the order and keeping wickets.
“I’m not suggesting that making Rahul keep will injure him, but it would increase the chances of that happening. His body might not be used to keeping wicket for three and a half hours and then opening the half of the inning an hour later,” penned down Aakash Chopra in his Espncricinfo column.
Chopra, later, mentioned that keeping in 50-overs is a different ball-game compared to keeping in 20-over cricket. “Yes, I hear you, Adam Gilchrist could do it, but then, he also trained his wicket-keeping muscles all his cricket-playing life. Thousands of hours of keeping develop and strengthen the muscles required to perform that role. And keeping in a 50-over game is very different from keeping in a T20I,” added the Hindi commentator.
Electing Rahul as the first-choice wicketkeeper, Chopra enquired, “When and how are we going to know whether Pant or Sanju Samson or Ishan Kishan or someone else is to be the second wicketkeeper in the side.” His ideas were backed by two-time World cup winning Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir who stated, “I am not sure if it is a great idea to remove KL Rahul (from the opening position),” according to TOI.