Star batter KL Rahul acknowledged the challenges of taking up wicketkeeping in a 50-over World Cup shortly after returning from an injury. However, he dedicated himself to the task following clear directives from head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma for the showpiece event.
KL Rahul had been sidelined for nearly five months due to a thigh injury he sustained during the IPL 2023 in May. As the captain of the Lucknow Super Giants, he had been in a race against time to regain his fitness for the World Cup. He undertook rigorous rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Although he was initially selected in India’s Asia Cup squad, he missed the group stages due to another minor injury during training. Nevertheless, since his comeback during the Super 4s stage, Rahul has excelled both with the bat and the gloves.
In the 2023 World Cup, Rahul has displayed impressive wicketkeeping skills. He took some remarkable catches behind the stumps, including a one-handed diving catch to dismiss Mehidy Hasan Miraz during India’s 7-wicket victory over Bangladesh in Pune.
Rahul’s keeping has instilled confidence in the team management to the extent that Ishan Kishan, who had been performing well both with the bat and the gloves, has been on the bench. Even when Ishan Kishan opened in place of Shubman Gill in India’s initial two matches, KL Rahul retained his wicketkeeping duties.
Speaking to the broadcasters following India’s dominant win over Bangladesh, KL Rahul revealed that he had worked extensively on his wicketkeeping skills during his time away from the sport. He emphasized his commitment to the role, stating that he doesn’t consider it as part-time wicketkeeping, and he is determined to perform well in that capacity for the duration of the World Cup.
KL Rahul has kept wickets in eight consecutive matches since his return during the Asia Cup. He attributed his successful transition to the wicketkeeping role to clear communication from the selectors and team management, which enabled him to prepare for the demanding job.
“Keeping is undoubtedly a significant responsibility, particularly in a 50-over format, as it can be physically demanding. Coming back from injury presented its challenges, but I was well-prepared for this role. The clarity provided by Rohit and Rahul on my role made it easier for me. I’ve put in the necessary work to contribute to the team,” Rahul added.
With four consecutive victories, India is set to face New Zealand in their next World Cup 2023 match, which promises to be a challenging encounter in Dharamsala. New Zealand has also remained unbeaten, winning their first four matches in the tournament in India.