‘Not up to me’: KL Rahul’s response to ‘will Rishabh Pant come back in the Indian side in New Zealand’ question
KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant have seen a lot in the last couple of weeks. While Rahul has successfully pulled off everything possible on the cricket field apart from bowling, Pant’s career has gone in the opposite direction. Even till the first week of January, Pant was pitted as the first-choice wicket-keeper in limited overs cricket but a certain Pat Cummins bouncer that whacked him on the helmet ruled him out of keeping duties for the first two ODIs against Australia and the Delhi stumper has since then slipped down the ladder, losing his spot to KL Rahul, who has seemlessly taken up the dual role of keeping and batting at any position for the team.
Rahul once again played an important innings in the first T20I against New Zealand at Auckland, scoring 56 runs to lay the foundation of India’s 204-run chase and did a fine job behind the stumps. Rahul’s performance, backed with captain Virat Kohli’s confidence in him has raised question marks over Rishabh Pant’s position in the side. When Rahul was asked the same question after India’s 6-wicket win against New Zealand in the first T20I, the right-hander appeared to be a but clueless.
At the post-match press conference in Auckland, a journalist asked Rahul--”Do you see Pant coming back into the side and playing in this series?”
To this, Rahul replied: “It’s not up to me, I mean.”
Rahul, however, added that he was ‘loving’ the dual role of a ‘keeper-batsman in the Indian side.
“I’m quite honestly loving it. At the international stage, it might seem very new and it might seem like I’ve never kept. (But) I’ve kept for my IPL franchise for the last 3-4 years, and I’ve kept for my first-class team as and when there is an opening. I’ve still stayed in touch with wicket keeping,” Rahul said after scoring 56 off 27 balls opening the batting in the 1st T20I against New Zealand.
“I enjoy staying behind the stumps and it also gives me a great idea about how the pitch is playing, and I can pass on that message to the bowlers and the captains with field-sets and everything. As a keeper, that’s also your responsibility to stay active and pass the message on to your captain as to what lengths are better and what I feel we can do better,” Rahul added.
Interestingly, India captain Virat Kohli, ahead of the start of India’s New Zealand tour, had said he will continue with his dual role “for a while” as it lends massive balance to the team.
India vs New Zealand 1st T20I highlights
Shreyas Iyer enhanced his reputation as a finisher with a scintillating 29-ball-58 in India’s six-wicket victory. Iyer built on KL Rahul’s (56 off 27 balls) blazing start and Virat Kohli’s useful 45 off 32 balls as India made short work of a 204-run target, knocking it off with an over to spare.
Credit also should be given to Indian bowlers for restricting New Zealand towards the end considering the dimensions of the Eden Park. (With agency inputs)
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