The decision by the senior national selection committee and the Indian team management to include K L Rahul in the 15-member squad for ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 despite not having played any competitive cricket since May this year has left many people baffled.
The Indian team management has tested several options for various positions for the last many months and yet it seems to have agreed to go ahead with a player who is just back from a long break and has recovered from a niggle only a couple of days back.
Rahul is currently preparing to fly out to Sri Lanka for the Super Four stages of the Asia Cup after being declared completely fit at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru on September 4.
Rahul played his last ODI match in March this year on an Australia tour of India after he tore his right thigh tendon, and got injured during the Indian Premier League (IPL). He went for the surgery in May and was under a rehabilitation centre at the National Cricket Academy, Bengaluru.
Announcing the squad, Ajit Agarkar also gave an update on Rahul’s fitness and stated, “KL is looking good. We feel this gives us the best balance to try and do well. With KL, he was part of the camp in Bengaluru, he looked really good there and has gotten over his niggle. He played a couple of games over the last two days. I think he kept for 50 overs and batted for around 50 overs too, so he looks good and we’re happy to have him.”
In his last ODI series against Australia, Rahul barely looked in form and struggled against spin. Australian spinner Adam Zampa got him out twice in the series. Rahul scored 116 runs in the series with 32 and 9 scores in the last two matches.
However, Rahul’s selection still looks like a gamble by the selector as India have struggled to find their perfect No.4 batter. There is an asterisk around Rahul’s name, how productive he can be as a wicketkeeper-batter with his past form and recovery from injury, only time tell.
Ishan Kishan looked promising in the last few ODI matches and his last inning against Pakistan in the Asia Cup has surely challenged Rahul for the position.
Rahul was selected for the Asia Cup but got ruled out for the first two matches due to a fresh niggle.
The other surprise selection is the inclusion of Shardul Thakur in the squad. He seems to have been picked to provide batting depth to the team, but concerns over his bowling remain a headache for the team. In the last match, Shardul bowled four overs for 26 runs, taking one wicket. Playing against the debutant Nepal India hardly looked dominating with the ball and bundled them out for a modest total only because of Nepal’s errors.
With Jasprit Bumrah leading the Indian bowling unit in the World Cup, the attack looks a bit suspect. Prasidh Krishna could have been the other pace option to be looked out for in the squad eyeing the pace and bounce he generates off the pitch.
Although it will be quite interesting to watch out how skipper Rohit Sharma will use the arsenal in his armoury which returns to its full strength. Will K.L Rahul wait for his chance or Ishan Kishan will get a chance in the playing XI?