Why has India relieved KL Rahul off his wicket-keeping duties?
The Indian cricket board (BCCI) recently announced the squad for the first Two Tests of the upcoming five-match series against England. Surprisingly, the names of three wicketkeeper batters were included in the 16-man squad — Rahul, KS Bharat and Dhruv Jurel, who received his maiden India call-up. While there was a lot of debate regarding who would be the first-choice keeper, there finally seems to be some clarity regarding the matter.
It's now being understood by a TOI report that KL Rahul’s role as a wicketkeeper has come to a temporary end in Test cricket, lasting just one series against South Africa. The 31-year-old, who registered a brilliant 101 in the first Test against South Africa in Centurion, will only play as a specialist batter in the home series against England, which begins with the first Test in Hyderabad on January 25.
Clearing the air on Rahul’s role, a BCCI said, “Rahul will play as a specialist batter from now on. While in overseas Tests you just have to stand back to the pacers, wicketkeeping in India, where spinners may operate in tandem, isn’t easy. The ball can bounce or turn viciously on the spin friendly home wickets. You’ve to keep moving up and down as a ’keeper. We want a specialist in that role."
KS Bharat frontrunner for the role
“Rahul, on the other hand, is one of our most valuable batting assets. We don’t want to burn him out by making him do the glovework as well. There is also a risk of him catching an injury while standing behind the stumps, which we can’t afford. Bharat and Jurel will be our wicketkeepers in this series, ” the source further added.
This decision makes KS Bharat the frontrunner, who last played for India in the WTC final 2023 against Australia and gives him a golden opportunity to make a Test comeback.
On the other hand, it has been reported that Jurel caught the attention of selectors not just through his notable contributions for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL but also due to some outstanding performances for Uttar Pradesh in domestic cricket.