Team India’s net session on Friday turned out to be a big relief for the management as cricket fans as KL Rahul did a 45-minute wicketkeeping session in training. After recovering from a thigh injury, Rahul managed to make a comeback in India’s squad for Asia Cup 2023 but he missed the first two matches due to a niggle. However, the flamboyant wicketkeeper has passed the fitness Test to get selected for the matches in the Super 4 stage. There were doubts over his fitness regarding wicketkeeping but Friday’s training session might have answered several questions for India.
Rahul’s intense keeping drill at the nets might have also brightened his chance of getting included in India’s playing 11 for the Super 4 match against Pakistan on Sunday. In his absence, India played Ishan Kishan as the wicketkeeper batter in the group stage clashes and he managed to impress in the middle-order with a 82-run knock versus Pakistan.
Rahul last played for India in an ODI match against Australia in Chennai in March this year.
According to PTI, Rahul went through various scenarios of a match while training for wicketkeeping at the Premadasa Stadium on Friday. The training started with Rahul standing up to the stumps as two support staff members did the duties of batter and bowler, a simulation of keeping to spinners.
Rahul was given a test on collecting the ball outside off-stump, and the 31-year-old also managed to crouch for the entire duration of training without much discomfort.
It might have given the team management a vivid portend about Rahul’s recovery from a niggle which was independent of the right thigh injury that mandated surgery and rehabilitation.
Rahul soon shifted his focus to collecting the ball down the leg-side as the support staff aimed his throws in that direction.
Rahul aced the test without much difficulty, and glided down the leg to collect the balls.
The drill followed an assessment to test his ability to affect stumpings, and later Kuldeep Yadav batted as Rahul’s readiness to keep against a left-handed batter was also put under the test.
The clear indications of his readiness notwithstanding, the team management will have to apply deep thoughts about giving Rahul a place in the 11.
Meanwhile, there will be a race between Kishan and Rahul to get a place in the XI as the southpaw has done quiet well in the recent times with four back-to-back half-centuries to make a statement.
He batted as an opener in the ODI series against West Indies where he was named Player of the match, while he was demoted to the number 5 against Pakistan in the Asia Cup league match, and Kishan produced a composed 81-ball 82.
The return of Rahul has raised uncertainty over Kishan’s place in the playing XI as India might look to give the right-handed batter some game time before World Cup.
The Mumbaikar, who made a return to the India side during the match against Pakistan at Pallekele after a hiatus of 6 months, was allotted the No. 4 slot, his chosen position.
Meanwhile, Sanju Samson, who was the travelling reserve, returned to India after Rahul joined the squad here.
Pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who skipped the Asia Cup league match against Nepal to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, too has rejoined the squad, and sweated it out at the nets.
(With PTI Inputs)