KL Rahul has been out of action since April and joined the Indian team after the group stages of the Asia Cup 2023.
Colombo: Can KL Rahul keep wickets for the entire duration of an ODI? That question has gathered steam after his inclusion in the India squad for ongoing Asia Cup and the upcoming World Cup. But on Friday, Rahul might have answered a few sceptics while keeping for nearly 45 minutes at nets. Even though Rahul has been batting quite fluently at the NCA match simulation process and at nets here, his wicketkeeping remained a subject of speculation.
Rahul’s intense keeping drill at nets might have also brightened his chance of getting included in India’s playing 11 for the Super 4 match against Pakistan on Sunday. Rahul last played for India in an ODI match against Australia in Chennai in March this year.
Going through various scenarios of a match was at the core of Rahul’s training at the Premadasa Stadium on Friday. The training started with Rahul standing up to the stumps as two support staff members did the duties of batter and bowler, a simulation of keeping to spinners.
Rahul was given a test on collecting the ball outside off-stump, and the 31-year-old also managed to crouch for the entire duration of training without much discomfort.
It might have given the team management a vivid portend about Rahul’s recovery from a niggle which was independent of the right thigh injury that mandated a surgery and rehabilitation.
Rahul soon shifted his focus to collecting the ball down the leg-side as the support staff aimed his throws in that direction. Rahul aced the test without much difficulty, and glided down the leg to collect the balls.
The drill followed an assessment to test his ability to affect stumpings, and later Kuldeep Yadav batted as Rahul’s readiness to keep against a left-handed batter was also put under the test. The clear indications of his readiness notwithstanding, the team management will have to apply deep thoughts about giving Rahul a place in the 11.
In the absence of Rahul, Ishan Kishan has been playing the wicket-keeper batter role. Kishan made four half-centuries in as many matches – 3 against the West Indies and one against Pakistan, to impress all.
The Jharkhand left-hander also showed heartening adaptability in this interim. Kishan batted in his preferred opening slot against the Windies. But the management asked him to bat at No. 5 against Pakistan in the Asia Cup league match, and Kishan produced a composed 81-ball 82.
The management might be tempted to continue with Kishan but the return of Rahul might have started a change in thinking. In the past too one has seen players walking straight back into the 11 after recuperation, with the latest example being Shreyas Iyer.
The Mumbaikar, who made a return to the India side during the match against Pakistan at Pallekele after a hiatus of 6 months, was allotted the No. 4 slot, his chosen position. Meanwhile, Sanju Samson, who was the travelling reserve, returned to India after Rahul joined the squad here.
Pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who skipped the Asia Cup league match against Nepal to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, too has rejoined the squad, and sweated it out at the nets.