"There is no guarantee he will be fit after two games" - Mohammad Kaif on KL Rahul's selection for Asia Cup
Kaif asserts that the team will miss the 31-year-old's runs and his ability to control the tempo of an innings during the middle overs.
Wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul will be absent from India's first two matches in the ongoing Asia Cup 2023 due to a minor injury. While opinions on Rahul's inclusion in the squad have been diverse, former Indian player Mohammad Kaif asserts that the team will miss the 31-year-old's runs and his ability to control the tempo of an innings during the middle overs.
Despite struggling in other formats, Rahul has displayed remarkable prowess at the number five position in the ODI lineup. He has accumulated 742 runs from 18 innings at an impressive average of 53, which stands as his highest average compared to any other batting position. Moreover, he has delivered pivotal performances when the team faced challenging situations.
“This means KL Rahul’s injury could aggravate. If he is unfit now, there is no guarantee that he will be fit after two games. The news is not good for Indian fans because Rahul plays very well at No. 5 in ODIs. His stats are very good,” Kaif said on Star Sports.
Ishan Kishan is the frontrunner to fill in KL Rahul's void
Mumbai Indians wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan has been included in the squad as a backup option. However, he is less accustomed to batting in the middle order within the ODI setup. Kaif added, "Kishan possesses the ability to shift gears, execute powerful shots, and stabilize the innings. His inclusion would not truly replace Rahul's role, as Rahul also contributes a finishing touch."
Considering Rahul's pre-existing fitness concerns since the squad's initial announcement, India has also included Sanju Samson as a reserve player. Ajit Agarkar mentioned this during a press conference. Samson has started his ODI career on a positive note, maintaining an average of 55.71 across 13 matches, amassing 390 runs, and delivering crucial performances in this format within his relatively brief career.