Impressed by what he’s seen of KL Rahul’s form behind the wickets, India captain Virat Kohli has clarified that the batsman will continue to keep wickets in New Zealand. Rahul kept wickets in the two ODIs in Rajkot and Bengaluru after Rishabh Pant was out concussed during the second ODI.
In Rajkot, not only did Rahul score a breezy 80 from No. 5, he also affected a stumping and took two catches. Citing example of how India benefitted in terms of team balance when Rahul Dravid kept wickets under Sourav Ganguly in the early 2000s, Kohli explained India are willing to persist with Rahul for the same purpose.
“If you look at the 2003 World Cup where Rahul bhai started keeping, the balance became different because you could play an extra batter and guys at the top could really play positive cricket,” Kohli said at the post-match conference on Sunday. “So, look, he is very open to playing anywhere because he is a proper batsman who can do you good in any format and at any position in the game.”
Rahul has been given the role of a floater in this Indian team. In his last three international matches, twice has Rahul opened the innings, while batting once at No. 3 and then 5. With questions surrounding MS Dhoni’s future, Rishabh Pant’s inconsistency and Sanju Samson’s limited opportunities, Kohli said having a batsman of Rahul’s caliber can really work in favour of India, at least for the time being.
“That was a spicy question,” Kohli said. “Rahul really brings in a good balance if he can keep and bat that well in that position (No. 5). He has come into the slot and he has done well so we will have to persist with that a little bit and see where that takes us and not necessarily be confused about the other options we have.”
“So I think lack of clarity in terms of positions has really hurt us in the past. Now that we understand that this feels right, we will go ahead with that for a while and figure out if this is the right thing to do or not. You can chop and change immediately and create confusion among the group. I don’t see any reason why we should change this balance. It has done well for the team and we will continue with the same for a while.”
At last, Kohli spoke about Rahul that batsman, about how he has come of age after battling inconsistency.
“He won’t go slam bang from ball one but he can do what he did in Rajkot just by playing good cricketing shots,” Kohli said of Rahul’s batting. “So I think solid game plan and understanding of his game is helping. He has reflected on what he needs to do in the last five-six months and he has come a long way. These are good signs for us. It gives a boost to the team because he keeps as well. It definitely allows us to play an extra batsmen which strengthens our batting massively. That is a very important factor as far as the team balance is concerned.”