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Why KL Rahul holds the key to India's Asia Cup glory

Source: ANI
August 26, 2023 19:02 IST
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KL Rahul

Photograph: Kind Courtesy BCCI

Former Indian cricketer Sanjay Bangar said that it would be prudent to designate KL Rahul as the wicketkeeper-batsman for the upcoming Asia Cup, scheduled to commence on August 30 in Pakistan-Sri Lanka.

In an exclusive conversation with Star Sports, former Indian cricketer Sanjay Bangar weighed in on the pivotal role of KL Rahul in Team India's preparations for the upcoming Asia Cup 2023. With an astute assessment of the team's dynamics, Bangar delved into the critical consideration of KL Rahul's involvement as a wicketkeeper-batsman and how this strategic decision aligns with India's quest for balance and performance.


Bangar spoke about KL Rahul’s role in Team India for the upcoming Asia Cup 2023, he said “I think keeper batter because no one bowls in the top 5 of team India, so it means if you want 6 bowling options you should have a player in your top 5 who can bowl or he should be a wicket-keeper batsman. So, I feel if KL Rahul plays the role of a wicket-keeper batsman, I believe then only he should be considered in the playing XI because in that way the team's balance will be maintained."

He further said, "If Kl Rahul is not fit as a batsman then Ishan Kishan has done nothing wrong because he is a better wicket-keeper and also a regular wicket-keeper. So, in the 50 over format game wherever India is going to play you will obviously want a fit and number one wicket keeper to play in the starting XI rather than considering a player who is half fit or who feels that he can be injured again."

Rahul's absence had left a big void in the middle order, where Rahul boasts of some really solid numbers. Following Pant's accident and some disappointing performances at the top of the order, Rahul was being used as a number-five batter. In 18 ODIs he has played as a number five batter, he has scored 742 runs at an average of 53.00 and a strike rate of 99.33. He has one century and seven half-centuries in this position, with the best score of 112.

This year Rahul has featured in two Tests, scoring 38 runs in three innings with the best score of 20. He has had a better record in ODIs this year, scoring 226 runs in six innings at an average of 56.50, with two half-centuries and best score of 75*.

Last year was a mixed bag for Rahul in international cricket. In 30 matches last year, he scored 822 runs at an average of 25.68, with nine half-centuries in 33 innings and best score of 73 runs. In four Tests, he scored 137 runs in eight innings, averaging just 17.12 with one fifty. In 10 ODIs, he scored 251 runs at an average of 27.88 with two fifties in nine innings. In 16 T20Is and 16 innings, he scored 434 runs at an average of 28.93 and a strike rate of over 126 with six fifties.

The Asia Cup to be held in Pakistan and Sri Lanka will start from August 30 with the match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan on September 2 at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy set to serve as the Men in Blue's campaign opener.

The squad also marks the return of Jasprit Bumrah to ODI cricket after a gap of more than one year. After proving his fitness in the ongoing T20I series against Ireland, Bumrah is set to test himself in the 50-over format heading into the World Cup. India's pace attack will be boosted by the return of Mohammed Siraj, who was not in the team for some time due to a sore ankle.

Tilak Varma made it to India's Asia Cup squad on the back of his strong performance against West Indies during the tour that ended this month.

Bowling all-rounders Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel are also in the squad to give the captain more diversity in choices. Apart from Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja is also in the team as an all-rounder.

Pakistan, India and Nepal are in Group A while Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are in Group B. The tournament will follow a hybrid model with Pakistan hosting four matches across two venues and Sri Lanka hosting the remaining games.

The six group-stage matches will be followed by the Super Fours, beginning September 6.

The final will be played by the top two teams at the end of the Super Fours on September 17 in Colombo.

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Source: ANI

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