The return of KL Rahul to the Indian cricket squad has created a selection problem for the team management, particularly regarding the place of Ishan Kishan in the playing XI. As India progresses to the Super Four stage of the ongoing Asia Cup 2023, the question arises whether both Kishan and Rahul can be accommodated in the same lineup.
While announcing India’s squad for the ICC World Cup 2023, Chief Selector Ajit Agarkar expressed satisfaction with Rahul’s fitness levels and performance at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Karnataka. He noted that Rahul batted for approximately 50 overs and kept wickets for a similar duration in practice games at the NCA.
Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan weighed in on the debate during a discussion on Star Sports, suggesting that it might not be feasible to include both Rahul and Kishan in the playing XI. Pathan pointed out that they could only play if a top-order batsman is injured or completely loses form.
Pathan emphasized the importance of a long-term perspective and not relying solely on short-term performances. While Kishan impressed with his innings against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, Pathan urged cricket enthusiasts to remember KL Rahul’s consistent performances over the past two years.
“Both cannot have a place in the XI. Both can only play if someone gets injured in the top order, which we don’t want, or loses his form completely. I have only one thing to say about the ongoing debate,” Pathan said.
Rahul had initially missed the Asia Cup group stage phase due to injury, providing Kishan with an opportunity to showcase his talent. Kishan’s solid knock of 82 against Pakistan bolstered his credentials in the tournament.
“Ishan Kishan scored runs against Pakistan at No. 5, which is not his position. God forbid if he gets out in the next match, will we say he is not in form? No, that’s not the case. We forget very quickly. We should never forget KL Rahul’s numbers for the last two years and Ishan Kishan has played one innings,” he continued.
Pathan also acknowledged that Rahul’s experience and track record, especially at the No. 5 position, make him a valuable asset. Rahul has an impressive average of 56.53 at that position in the batting order.
“You shouldn’t have short-term memory. You should have long-term thinking and I feel the thinking with which the management is going is absolutely correct because if you keep going with short-term memory, you will have a lot of difficulty in making the team, stabilizing it, and giving confidence to the guys,” Pathan added.
“You just have to keep in mind that if KL Rahul comes and plays and doesn’t get his form, then you can say that he didn’t regain his form after injury and you can give Ishan Kishan the entire World Cup. However, as soon as KL Rahul comes, he will play,” Pathan concluded.
In conclusion, while the competition for a place in the playing XI is intense, KL Rahul’s return and track record may give him an edge over Ishan Kishan, particularly in the middle-order batting role. However, the final decision rests with the team management, and performances in upcoming matches will likely play a crucial role in shaping the playing XI for important tournaments like the ICC World Cup 2023.