Former India opener Gautam Gambhir feels KL Rahul has sealed his place as wicketkeeper-batter in India’s ICC ODI World Cup squad. The mega event will begin next month in India. However, Rahul returned to action during the Super Four match of Asia Cup 2023 against Pakistan after a long injury layoff. He smashed a stunning hundred against Pakistan and followed up with 39 on a challenging wicket against Sri Lanka on Tuesday as well. He also kept the wickets in both games ahead of Ishan Kishan.
“I think the team management has made it very close that it’s going to be KL Rahul who would be keeping in the World Cup because there was Ishan Kishan, Gambhir said on Star Sports.”If Kishan was in the scheme of things of playing on the 11th against Australia, then he would have kept wickets for India because he was the main wicket-keeper, but now in the last two games, KL Rahul has kept wickets,” he added.
The cricketer-turned-commentator also added that the No. 5 slot is now open. He again said that there are a couple of options, including bringing in Shreyas Iyer, playing Suryakumar at No. 7 and Hardik Pandya at five or placing Ravindra Jadeja at No.5 as well.
“So the number five position is now open,” Gambhir continued. “Whether Shreyas Iyer comes into it, whether they play Suryakumar at seven and Hardik at five or Jadeja at five, now KL Rahul has secured that number four spot as a wicketkeeper-batsman. So, it is pretty much clear, which is good for Indian cricket that they have backed KL Rahul as a wicketkeeper now and who’s batting at number four,” he further added.
Meanwhile, Gautam Gambhir has also lauded Dunith Wellalage for bowling an amazing spell in the Asia Cup 2023 Super Four clash between India and Sri Lanka despite not having too many variations so far. However, Wellalage registered figures of 5/40 in 10 overs as the hosts bowled out India for 213 in Colombo on Tuesday, September 12. However, India bounced back to bundle out the hosts for 172 and reached the final.
Gambhir stated: “Actually, you don’t see such bowlers being this successful in Sri Lanka. If you see Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan, they had a lot of variations. A bowler like this has come after Rangana Herath. See the batters he dismissed – Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya. Think about the level of batters they are. He dismissed many batters when they were defending. It’s not they got dismissed while trying to hit sixes or against half-trackers. If you get three batters out while defending, it is a great sign for Sri Lankan cricket.”
“The surprising thing is that if Hasaranga had been fit, he (Wellalage) might have not even been in the squad. How will you drop him from the squad now? It was amazing bowling and for me, more than bowling, amazing batting as well, the sort of cricketer he looked under pressure,” Gautam Gambhir concluded. “Don’t forget that he took an exceptional catch as well. Ishan Kishan’s catch was not very easy. Overall, there couldn’t have been a better game for any 20-year-old player against such a team, where you pick up five wickets, score 42 runs and take an excellent catch.”