After guiding India to victory with a fighting 64 not out against SL, Rahul believes additional wicketkeeper’s role has helped him settle in the side
India’s KL Rahul celebrates his half-century in the second ODI against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday. Pic/PTI
With Rishabh Pant on the long road to recovery, KL Rahul’s ‘dual role’ for Team India has suddenly acquired added significance. Not least because the country will be hosting the ICC World Cup after more than a decade.
“When you choose a team game, you need to be flexible in the mind and do whatever the team requires of you. I’ve done this [keeping wickets] for a couple of years now; since the end of 2019, through 2020 and for a few games in 2021,” Rahul was quick to remind after guiding India to victory over Sri Lanka in the 2nd ODI here with an unbeaten 64.
Never out of contention
It’s just as well because, despite a dip in form over the past few months, the 30-year-old has never been out of contention thanks to the extra string in his bow. Another Rahul in the Indian contingent, coach Dravid, can tell ‘KL’ all about that lifeline from his playing days. The latter is making good use of it.
A packed top-order has had opener Rahul coming in at No. 5 but he is willing to see the silver lining. “I’ve been all over [the batting order], I’ve been asked to wicket-keep. It’s been fun for me,” he said, adding: “I’ve really enjoyed performing in tough conditions and under pressure. It has helped me understand myself, my game, and my batting better.”
For someone who likes the ball to come on to his bat, facing spin on arrival at the crease is a challenge but he is happy to have earned the trust of the team management. “Firstly, I want to be in the playing eleven; that’s the most important thing,” he says, and tells you that one of the perks of batting low is that he doesn’t have to rush; that he can “take a shower, put his feet up and watch the game”.
Edge over Ishan Kishan
Ishan Kishan had a similar role in the T20 series and is in the ODI squad as well. He has the advantage of being a left-hander, something skipper Rohit Sharma wants in the top order. For now, however, Rahul has his nose in front in this duel for the dual role.