Experienced spinner Ravichandran Ashwin believes that KL Rahul has solidified his position at the number 5 slot in the Indian cricket team. The wicketkeeper-batsman is poised to make his comeback in competitive cricket during the upcoming Asia Cup after a prolonged injury hiatus. While KL Rahul faced challenges in securing his spots in the T20I and Test team’s playing XIs in the past year, he demonstrated proficiency in the 50-over format.
India’s middle-order has been a concern for some time, but the decision to move Rahul to the number 5 position has proven to be effective. In 18 ODIs, he has amassed 742 runs while batting at this slot, including 7 half-centuries and a century, firmly establishing his role.
According to Ashwin, Rahul has filled a void that emerged after the retirements of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, becoming a reliable choice at number 5 and also as the wicketkeeper-batsman.
“Ever since Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni retired, India were desperately looking for a replacement. Rahul has filled that slot with expertise. He is a definite lock at No.5 and is also our wicketkeeper-batsman,” Ravichandran Ashwin stated in a video on his YouTube channel.
Ashwin highlighted that Rahul took over as the primary wicketkeeper after Rishabh Pant’s unfortunate car accident last year, forcing him into a break from cricket.
“Before Pant’s injury, Rahul was second in line and now Ishan Kishan is the second keeper, he has grabbed that opportunity with both hands,” Ravichandran Ashwin added.
However, ahead of the Asia Cup 2023, Rahul is dealing with a niggle that was revealed by chief selector Ajit Agarkar during the squad announcement. Ashwin remains hopeful that Rahul will recover in time for India’s opening match of the Asia Cup.
“Rahul has some niggle but hopefully, he will be ready for the first game. If he is not we have an 18-member travelling with the squad in Sanju Samson,” Ravichandran Ashwin noted.
India is set to commence their World Cup journey against arch-rivals Pakistan on September 2 at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Pallekele.