KL Rahul has always been confident about keeping wickets in Tests and the upcoming series against South Africa will allow India’s new gloveman to do something different, head coach Rahul Dravid said on Sunday.
With KS Bharat having been found technically inept in terms of batting abilities in the traditional format, Indian team management’s other option was Ishan Kishan, who decided to take a ‘mental health’ break.
In that sense, Rahul wasn’t just the best choice amongst the troika, but he was also the only viable option in a pressure scenario and on the pacer-friendly tracks here.
“I see it as an exciting challenge, an opportunity for him to certainly do something different. Obviously, with Ishan not being available, this opportunity came up. We had a couple of keepers to choose from and Rahul is one of them.
ALSO READ: Australia captain Healy quashes talks of Harmanpreet rivalry, seeks more India vs Australia women’s Test matches
We had discussed it with him, and he was very confident and was keen on giving it a go,” Dravid said during a media interaction.
While Dravid understood that the challenges of keeping in Tests were entirely different, he trusted the fellow Bengaluru man to do a good job, having shown decent abilities in the 50-over version.
“We do understand it is not something he has done as often (keeping in Tests). But he has been doing it regularly in 50 overs cricket, and that takes a lot out of your body. He has prepared well over the last five to six months, he has done a lot of keeping,” Dravid said.
Rahul won’t need to keep much against spin
While Dravid explained the rationale behind opting for Rahul as a wicketkeeper, he also dropped a hint that there won’t be much spin bowling on this track effectively ruling out Ravichandran Ashwin as the second spinner.
“This will be a new and exciting challenge for him. I guess one of the things is there’s not going to be that much spin bowling, so that will ease him into the role a little bit, something how it goes and pans out,” the coach said.
Having Rahul as keeper also gives the team the cushion of an extra batter, which in this case is Shreyas Iyer. Had Kishan played, one specialist batter among Rahul and Iyer would have had to make way for him.
ALSO READ: Ex-West Indies captain Kieron Pollard to join England coaching staff for 2024 T20 World Cup
“It’s really nice to have him for the option he provides us. His ability with the bat will be useful, and he has kept in white ball cricket, and the question is of transforming that into red-ball cricket,” the coach added.
There is a forecast for heavy rains during the first two days and chances of moisture beneath the surface but Dravid was confident that his team has bowling depth to counter adverse conditions.
“Look, you need to check out what happens on the match day. We still have another day left before the match starts. We need to see what’s in front of us. What’s up there (sky) and what’s down there (pitch), you will only know on the match day,” the coach said.
“We will take a decision, but we have balance, if we want, we can play two spinners and three seamers and maybe four-seamers. We have that depth and balance (in the team) but you can’t control the weather,” he sounded a tad bullish.