India is set to play a full-fledged series against Australia Down Under. The ODI series went in favor of the Aussies after they managed to win the first two matches and the series ended 2-1 and now we have the shortest format all set to begin on Friday. India has a few selection headaches. Should they opt for Rahul as a specialist batsman and have Sanju Samson as the keeper? Or, should they opt only for Rahul as the keeper-batsman in the XI?
India would go for Rahul as the keeper-batsman most likely as he gives a better balance to the team. He might open or bat in the middle-order depending on the team's requirements.
But Rahul will face competition from Samson for a place in the XI? So, who is a better keeper-batsman between Rahul and Samson? Cricwizz takes a look.
Rahul has had a successful IPL 2020 campaign where he emerged the highest run-getter in the tournament. He also kept wickets for his team, and managed the triple role of batting, keeping, and captaining his team - Kings XI - extremely well. He is the most in-form batsman currently.
Although his Test career has hit a roadblock, he continues to be one of the best batsmen for India in limited-overs cricket. Hence, he might open or come out to bat as a middle-order batsman, and he has been successful in both positions.
For the records, he has scored 1239 runs @ 47.65 with 4 tons and 7 fifties in 32 ODIs. He has scored 1461 runs @ 45.65 with 2 tons and 11 fifties in 42 T20Is.
Samson has had a good IPL 2020 season as well, but he was not as consistent as Rahul. But he impressed everyone with his shot-making, aggression, and a positive mindset, and hence, he was included in the limited-overs squad. If India wins the ODI series with a match to go, Samson may get a look in, while Rahul may be rested.
If Samson does play, it would be just his fifth international match. And he will have to make it count. He has to ensure he carries his IPL form Down Under if and when he gets the chance to play.
Verdict: However, Rahul wins the battle hands down when it comes to being an aggressive, and consistent batsman in limited-overs cricket. Over the last couple of seasons, Rahul has added consistency to his limited-overs game, be it for India or Kings XI Punjab. But Samson has shown a few sparks of brilliance here and there.
Rahul has not been a regular keeper and kept wickets only when it was needed by the team. But now he is keeping consistently for his IPL team, and would be asked to do for India again as it adds a better balance to the XI. His keeping is tidy, but he is not a natural keeper, and it shows. But he does a fine job with the gloves and can be trusted to do the dual roles.
Samson is a better keeper than Rahul as he has been a specialist in this role. But thanks to the changing dynamics of the sport, a keeper just can't make it to the XI with just his fine keeping as it needs consistent scores from the bat as well. The likes of Adam Gilchrist and MS Dhoni have rewritten a new role of keeper-all-rounder where the keeper is as good as any other batsman in the squad. Hence, Samson has to produce runs with the bat, while maintaining his keeping form to displace Rahul in the XI.
In terms of the overall package to the team, Rahul offers a better option as he can be used as a floater in the XI. He can bat as an opener or a finisher depending on the team's requirements, and keep wickets as well. He can even lead the team in case the skipper is out with injury or not available.
Samson is just showing the signs of a quality keeper-batsman, but he is yet to fire in international cricket. But it's a great sign for Indian cricket that a few quality keeper-batsmen are fighting for a single spot in the XI.
Cover image courtesy: Bcci.tv