Former Indian cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar has lent his support to fielding Ishan Kishan and KL Rahul in the playing XI during the upcoming ODI World Cup. The inclusion of two wicketkeepers in the 15-man squad has raised questions about their roles in the team, and Gavaskar believes it’s a positive dilemma to have.
Ishan Kishan’s recent performances have been instrumental in his selection for the ODI World Cup. During the Asia Cup 2023 Group A opener against arch-rivals Pakistan, Kishan was pivotal in rescuing India from a precarious position, contributing 82 runs from just 81 balls. This innings showcased his ability to thrive under pressure and his knack for taking on the aggressor’s role in partnerships.
Kishan’s versatility has also been on display, as he has succeeded as an opener in the past and even recorded a double century in that role against Bangladesh. Additionally, his consistency against West Indies, including three successive fifties in the ODI series, highlights his adaptability and batting prowess.
KL Rahul, sidelined with a groin injury, is set to rejoin the squad during the Super Fours of the Asia Cup 2023. However, with Shreyas Iyer making a comeback after a lengthy injury layoff and batting at No.4 against Pakistan, the team faces the intriguing task of fitting Rahul into the playing XI.
Sunil Gavaskar proposes a tactical solution to this puzzle. He suggests that Ishan Kishan, who has been in fine form and has prior experience keeping wickets, could take on the role of wicketkeeper. This approach would alleviate some physical strain on KL Rahul, allowing him to focus on his batting, especially after recovering from injury.
“It could be a fight between KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer in the Super Fours in the Asia Cup. With the kind of form that Ishan Kishan showcased against Pakistan… if both Rahul and Ishan play, it might be a good idea to let Ishan keep wickets because if Rahul has undergone recovery from an injury, then getting up and down might be a bit of an issue. It makes sense to have Ishan to keep wickets. It could actually be a fight between Shreyas and KL Rahul for the No. 4 and No. 5 positions,” Gavaskar said.
Gavaskar’s endorsement is rooted in the belief that Rahul’s past performances warrant his inclusion in the World Cup squad despite his recent injury concerns. He acknowledges that Rahul’s proven track record as a batsman grants him some leeway.
While KL Rahul’s physical fitness may be on the mend, his cricket fitness and ability to handle the rigours of field movements and running between the wickets remain uncertain. The team management will closely monitor his progress as they prepare for the World Cup.
If Rahul’s fitness is not up to par, there is a provision for a replacement in the World Cup squad. The ICC’s technical committee will assess the injury and decide whether a replacement is warranted. Gavaskar expresses confidence that this process should proceed without any complications.
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As India prepares for the ODI World Cup, the selection problem of accommodating Ishan Kishan and KL Rahul in the playing XI adds an exciting layer of complexity to their campaign. Sunil Gavaskar’s suggestion of Ishan Kishan taking on the wicketkeeping duties to ease Rahul’s return from injury is a pragmatic approach that allows India to maximize their batting firepower. Regardless of how the team management decides to handle this situation, it’s clear that India possesses a wealth of talent and options as they aim for World Cup glory.
“He is a proven performer with the bat and when you have been a proven performer, you get a bit of leeway. That’s exactly what has happened in this instance. It can be a bit of a worry that he hasn’t played any cricket. Now, you are flying him to Sri Lanka, he will be able to play a few matches and then you see his fitness.
“You have 3 ODIs against Australia in the 3rd week of September. You can still have a replacement in the World Cup. There is a technical committee of the ICC that will assess the injury and decide whether there can be a replacement or not. I don’t think there should be a problem with that,” he added.
INDIA ODI WORLD CUP SQUAD:- Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj