Aakash Chopra has raised concerns that making KL Rahul keep in the long-term will risk him getting injured due to the overload on his body. Chopra further added that by making Rahul the No.1 choice, India risk picking a backup option purely based on gut feeling rather than going by performances.
Over the last 10-12 months, the Men in Blue has seen serious injuries hamper their own progress and the careers of some big names like Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Deepak Chahar. One may also add Rohit Sharma — another muscle injury — to the list now that he has been ruled out of the remainder of the New Zealand tour. This is one of Chopra’s concerns with regard to pushing Rahul to keep for 50 overs and bat in the middle-order.
“Five of India's key players have got injured in the last ten or 12 months. All these injuries seem to be workload-related and are fairly serious. 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 innings half an hour later,” Chopra wrote in his column for ESPNCricinfo.
“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,” he noted.
As a former opener turned cricket analyst, Chopra’s second major concern is regarding the choice of a backup option to Rahul. Though the list — which includes Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, and Ishan Kishan — is pretty clear, Chopra questions how India will go about finding the second-choice keeper-batsman.
“When and how are we going to know whether Pant or Sanju Samson or Ishan Kishen or someone else is to be the second wicketkeeper in the side? It's quite clear that whoever gets picked as the second wicket-keeper has to be a better batsman than keeper, for his keeping skills alone are unlikely to make him a viable option to play in the XI. In addition, that keeper must also be capable of batting lower down the order, for there isn't a place for another top-order batsman in the squad, let alone in the playing XI,” he wrote.
“If India don't pick a full-time keeper in their ODI playing XIs too, they will paint themselves into a corner, where they will need to pick someone as a backup purely on gut feel and not going by his performances,” Chopra added.
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