In the ongoing ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2023, KL Rahul has emerged as a
true all-rounder, showcasing his prowess not only with the bat but also behind
the stumps. The Indian head coach, Rahul Dravid, showered praises on his
namesake for his remarkable wicketkeeping display during a press conference
ahead of India's match against New Zealand in Dharamshala.
Dravid, a former wicketkeeper himself, was particularly impressed with Rahul's seamless transition to the role of wicketkeeper. Rahul had been sidelined for almost four months due to a hamstring injury sustained during the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL). Drawing from his own playing days, Dravid highlighted the importance of maintaining a balanced playing XI by having a reliable wicketkeeper, much like his role in the 2003 ODI World Cup.
While Rishabh Pant was initially the team's primary wicketkeeper, his unfortunate accident led to his exclusion from the lineup. KL Rahul stepped in, not only stabilizing the middle order but also asserting himself as a powerful enforcer. His batting performance at the number 5 position demonstrated his expertise with the bat. However, it was his skills behind the stumps that garnered the most attention from the head coach.
"KL Rahul has been doing a fantastic job. Rahul has really kept superbly in this tournament and batted really well whenever he has got a chance. It is a challenge since he is not someone who keeps regularly. He's kept a bit more than I did, but it's still challenging considering that he came back from a long injury," Dravid praised.
Despite initial plans to build Rahul's form in matches leading up to the World Cup being thwarted by his injury, Dravid was impressed by his dedication and hard work. Rahul's consistent wicketkeeping and impressive batting performances have instilled a high level of confidence in his abilities, according to the head coach.
KL Rahul's unbeaten 97 in India's opening match against Australia in Chennai set the tone for his remarkable run in the World Cup. With a few more noteworthy innings under his belt, he is set to play an even more critical role in the middle order, especially with the absence of Hardik Pandya in the upcoming match against New Zealand.