WTC Final | KL Rahul as wicketkeeper at no.5 or 6 would make India stronger, believes Sunil Gavaskar
KL Rahul with Indian head coach Rahul Dravid during the recently concluded Border Gavaskar Trophy|
Sunil Gavaskar has backed out of favour batter KL Rahul to return to the Indian Test team in the marquee World Test Championship final in June by donning the gloves behind the wickets. Gavaskar cited Rahul's record in England while presenting his case, touting him for a middle-order role.
India recently beat Australia for the fourth Test series in succession as they prevailed 2-1 at home in the Border Gavaskar Trophy that ended with a drawn Test in Motera on March 13. The result helped the Men in Blue secure their spot in the World Test Championship final while Australia topped the points table in the second edition of the marquee event. The two sides would thus cap off the two-year cycle with a battle for the mace at The Oval beginning June 7, just a week after the IPL and shortly ahead of the Ashes.
Heading into the clash, India already have a host of team selection headaches swirling with the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant already ruled out of the encounter. The recent series saw KS Bharat make his debut as a wicket-keeper batter to replace Pant but failed to impress much in either count of his game. While his glovework was decent, the 29-year-old only managed 101 runs in four games with a high score of 44. The one-month-long endeavour also saw veteran KL Rahul be dropped after the first two encounters as the side's vice-captain, even failing to find a place in the side for the final two clashes. It signalled a huge fall from grace for the Lucknow Super Giants skipper given he had captained India in a Test only a little over a year ago but has failed to pass even 25 in 10 Test innings since.
However, legendary Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar has touted the Karnataka batter to make a return in India's next appearance but in a different role. While Rahul has spent the majority of his first-class and Test career as an opener, Gavaskar believes the batter would strengthen India if played as a wicket-keeper batter in the middle-order, a role the 30-year-old frequents in white-ball cricket.
“You can see KL Rahul as a wicketkeeper. If he bats at No.5 or 6 in at the Oval then our batting will be stronger. Because he batted really well in England last year. He scored a century at the Lord’s. Keep KL Rahul in mind when you pick your XI for the WTC final,” Gavaskar was quoted saying by Indian Express.
Rahul has two Test centuries in England, including one in the summer of 2021 which helped India to a 151-run win. The move down the order would also allow Shubman Gill to retain his spot as the opener, having showcased his potential with a fine 128 in Ahmedabad against Australia. However, it remains to be seen what direction head coach Rahul Dravi and skipper Rohit Sharam end up taking when the time comes.