Why is no. 4 position in Indian cricket squad such a hard thing to maintain? Why it has become a topic of discussion? Indian team as observed has always been facing the difficulty in selecting a batsman who would bat for India in the limited-over cricket at the number four position.
Last year the auditions marked the entry of Tamil Nadu All Rounder Vijay Shankar for the no.4 spot in 2019 World Cup after a lot of drama created due to the last min transfer of Ambati Rayudu. Cricketers Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant, and Hardik Pandya were among the ones who were tested.
It’s been six months after the World Cup now and the aforementioned problem looks to be fading as Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer has taken the command in that position but it doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and sorted now and even if it is, two of India’s former Test openers don’t think so.
The duo, Gautam Gambhir and Aakash Chopra, have probed the management’s approach of making KL Rahul stay in the ODI format as well. To their opinion, KL Rahul is a precious asset of the Indian squad and this decision might hamper his performance in the long run.
KL Rahul has been performing well and his stats are in his favour. As players fitness counts in lots of aspects and it is all dependent upon how he trains himself and his luck factor which can’t be predicted or assumed.
After the multiple failure scenarios of Rishabh Pant for wicket-keeping skills, after MS Dhoni’s sabbatical, KL Rahul’s decent wicket keeping stole the show. His run-scoring capability in his new dual role is also praiseworthy.
KL Rahul has scored 411 runs at a staggering average of 68.50 in the eight matches he has played as wicket-keeper. Pant, on the other hand, has scored a mere 400 in his last 22 matches with an average of 23.52, which looks pretty average considering the amount of backing and time he got.
Gambhir and Chopra both agree on a point that KL Rahul is a top-order batsman who should not do the glove work in the 50-over format. Aakash Chopra adds that the wicket-keeping muscles of KL Rahul would not be able to take the workload. It is a fact that what he is talking about is absolutely logical but Chopra talks about Rahul wicket-keeping and then opening the batting straightaway and not KL Rahul the middle-order batsman who scored 88 runs off 64 balls today for India.
KL Rahul has contributed well in the middle-order. He has moulded himself according to the situation after making a comeback in the Indian squad. Rahul has scored 175 runs in three innings when asked to bat at the number five position. Rahul averages 87.50 at the position. The sample size must be small but for a batsman who has played at the top of the order for most of his life, it is not easy.
“I am not sure if it is a great idea to remove KL Rahul,” Gautam Gambhir quoted but how fair will it be to drop KL Rahul if Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are both fit and, in the form, to play.
The debate will surely unfold itself more in the coming times and it remains to be seen that for how long, with how much consistency and how stalwartly KL Rahul freezes his name as India’s limited-overs wicket-keeper batsman. The other interesting question which is slowly developing is that whether Rishabh Pant is India’s backup wicket-keeper.