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“I see it as an exciting challenge and an opportunity for him” – Rahul Dravid on KL Rahul’s keeping
By SMCS - Dec 26, 2023 8:46 am
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KL Rahul has played only one first-class match as the designated wicketkeeper, but that doesn’t matter to the team management as India will back him as a wicketkeeper in the two-Test series in South Africa. Two days before the first Test in Centurion, head coach Rahul Dravid opened up on the challenge for Rahul but also shared the opportunities it opens up for him as well.

KL Rahul
KL Rahul in the promo for South Africa tour

“I see it as an exciting challenge and an opportunity for him to certainly do something different,” Rahul Dravid said. “With Ishan [Kishan] not being available, the opportunity came up. We have a couple of keepers we can choose from. Rahul is certainly one. We have had this discussion with him, we’ve discussed this with him. You know, he is very confident, he is very keen on giving it a go. We do understand that it’s probably something he has not done as often. He has been doing it regularly in 50-overs cricket. So that’s certainly tough, you know, to play 50 overs and then bat as well in a full day. That can take a lot out of your body.”

He further added, “So he has prepared well, I must say, over the last five, six months. He has done a lot of keeping, even though it’s in the white-ball format. But this will be a new and exciting challenge for him as well. I guess one of the things here is that if anything there is not going to be that much of spin bowling. Probably more pace bowling here than there is spin, so it will ease him into that role a little bit if anything. It’s something that we will see how it goes and how it pans out, but it’s really nice to have someone like him and the options that he provides us. Just having his ability with the bat would be something that would be really useful. And let’s see how he goes with the gloves. I mean, he has kept really well in one-day cricket. So just a question of now transferring that into red-ball cricket for longer.”

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However, The time has come for Rahul, who scored a century as an opener on India’s last tour of South Africa, in the absence of Rishabh Pant, who scored one in the middle order himself and is yet to get fit for the games. India is hopeful that KL Rahul will contribute with the bat also.

KL Rahul

“For us, the big challenge is if we can really put some runs on the board and score those critical, extra 60-70 runs that gives you a great chance. If I go back to the last series that I was here, the one thing we did here [in the first Test] really well was we had a really good first innings. We had a really good first day and got to 327 in the first innings. If you can put up those kinds of scores on challenging wickets, you put yourself ahead in a Test match. But in the next two Test matches, I just felt in our third innings, we could not score those 50, 60 extra runs. You know, we just felt short and they bowled well,” he again shared.

However, since the last trip, Team India have introduced more attacking batters. And, Dravid said they weren’t asking the young batters to change the game but to be aware of match situations as well.

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“We encourage the players to play the way they feel most comfortable in,” Dravid said. “In the end, you are judged by the results you produce. The guys know that, they understand that. We want to encourage them to play in the way that they play, but also keeping in view the conditions and keeping certain sort of tactical things that you have to be aware of when you play in South Africa. The nature of the ball and how that behaves over the course of 80 overs and the kind of shots you can play may be in the early part of innings vis-a-vis what you might be able to do later on,” Rahul Dravid added.

“I think there’s a balance between finding that, just having the cricket smarts and to read a game and to understand the situation and play according to the situation. But of course, allowing yourself to express yourself. So certainly, we’ve got guys who do play their shots and we are not going to hold them back, and we are going to allow them to express themselves, and hopefully they’ll make some smart decisions when the situation arrives,” Rahul Dravid concluded.