The concussion injury to Rishabh Pant in the first ODI against Australia gave a window of opportunity to Team India to experiment with their line-up. KL Rahul was asked to keep wickets and the Karnataka player did the job to perfection in the last two ODIs.
Besides, Rahul’s own batting form has made him a utility player for the team. He is now capable to bat anywhere in the batting line-up to meet the needs of the team. He batted at No 3, No 6 and opened the innings in the three ODIs against Australia.
So, should Rahul be preferred as the first-choice keeper for India?
It would give balance to the team
With Rahul keeping wickets, it gives the team the chance to include an extra batsman or an extra bowler depending on the conditions. India were earlier forced to include Pant despite his inconsistencies as they have had not tried Rahul as the keeper. But with Rahul shining behind the stumps, it opens a window of opportunity for Team India to add depth to their batting or bowling department.
Besides, he can bat anywhere in the order, making him a versatile player.
Rahul is too good to make him sit, but Pant yes
When Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are available, Rahul has to bat lower down the order or even make way for either of the two players. But with Rahul keeping wickets, his place in the XI is guaranteed as long as he does justice to both the departments. On the other hand, Pant has not been able to set the stage on fire in the limited-overs cricket for India.
Keeping is a specialist job
Rahul may have done well so far, but he’s not a regular keeper. He might commit a mistake with keeping and it may cost India a match or even a tournament. Hence, a regular keeper is preferred. Pant, although inconsistent, is a specialist for the job and can be counted to deliver the goods. Besides, Pant’s attacking batting can be an asset during the slog overs.
Rahul may lose focus
There have been few examples of players losing focus when entrusted with dual jobs. There are likes of Irfan Pathan who lost his control over his bowling after he was entrusted with the job of leading the batting under Greg Chappell.
Rahul is a special talent and he should be taken care of. He should be given a permanent slot in the batting line-up and a specific role consistently so that he is clear in his mind to produce the results.