In anticipation of the upcoming 2023 World Cup, India is gearing up to announce their squad, and the significant news revolves around KL Rahul’s triumphant fitness clearance, setting the stage for his inclusion. Rahul, who is also part of the Asia Cup squad, missed the initial Group A matches due to injury but is expected to be available for selection during the Super 4s stage, should India advance, with their first Super 4s game scheduled for Sunday, September 10.
Debate Emerges Over KL Rahul’s Role:
While KL Rahul’s return was widely expected to see him slot in at No. 5 in place of Ishan Kishan, the latter’s impressive performance against Pakistan has ignited a debate regarding India’s optimal batting combination when Rahul returns.
Exploring the Potential Replacements:
Shreyas Iyer, among the three candidates, appears the least likely to be replaced when Rahul reclaims his spot in the lineup. Renowned for his ability to play spin, Iyer has effectively addressed India’s long-standing No. 4 dilemma in ODIs. His impressive record includes 818 runs in just 21 innings at No. 4, boasting an average of 45.4 and a strike rate approaching 95. Given his pivotal role, Shreyas Iyer should maintain his No. 4 position, unaffected by Rahul’s return.
Shubman Gill, who started the year on a high note, experienced a dip in form after a phenomenal IPL season. While he has stellar ODI numbers in India, tallying 704 runs in 12 innings at an astonishing average of 64 and a formidable strike rate of 113.4, his performance outside of India has been less convincing, especially during the West Indies tour and the initial Asia Cup match against Pakistan. With Ishan Kishan’s promising form, India may contemplate having Rohit and Ishan open while accommodating KL Rahul at No. 5. However, Gill’s remarkable record in India, combined with the World Cup being held on home soil, suggests that the opening partnership of Rohit and Gill is likely to remain intact.
Ishan Kishan, despite his impressive displays, is the most probable candidate to move to the bench if KL Rahul returns to the side. While Kishan’s versatility as an opener and wicket-keeper earned him a spot in the World Cup squad, his spectacular counter-attacking performance against Pakistan at No. 5 has sparked a discussion regarding his place in the playing XI. Nonetheless, KL Rahul’s consistent excellence at No. 5 for over three years makes it improbable for Kishan to displace him after a few strong outings. While the possibility of Kishan opening alongside Rohit exists, he is likely to become a bench option should KL Rahul make his comeback.