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India vs England | Why KL Rahul will not keep wickets in the Test series

India vs England Why KL Rahul will not keep wickets in the Test series

India’s head coach, Rahul Dravid, has ruled out the possibility of KL Rahul donning the gloves in the upcoming five-match test series against England, starting Thursday in Chennai. Dravid said that the team management has decided to go with a specialist wicketkeeper-batter, either KS Bharat or Dhruv Jurel, for the challenging assignment.

Rahul’s impressive stint in South Africa

Rahul, who is primarily an opening batsman, had kept wickets in the two-Test series against South Africa in December-January after regular keeper Rishabh Pant was ruled out due to a car accident. Rahul impressed with his agility and reflexes behind the stumps and also contributed with the bat, scoring 123 runs in four innings at an average of 30.75. He played an important part in India tying the series 1-1. He scored a determined 77 runs in the second innings of the last Test match at Cape Town.

The challenge of keeping wickets in India

Dravid did, however, point out that it’s a different ball game in India, particularly when facing the spinners, who are predicted to be major players in the series. He said that the nature of the pitches in India makes it mandatory for a wicketkeeper to stand up to the wickets against spinners, in this case, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. This role should be assigned to a specialist stumper.

“Rahul will not be playing as a wicketkeeper in this series, and we are clear about that in the selection itself. We have picked two other wicketkeepers, and obviously, Rahul did a fantastic job for us in South Africa and really played a big part in helping us draw the series,” Dravid said in a press conference on Tuesday.

“But considering five Test matches (against England) and playing in these conditions, the selection will be between the two other keepers we have,” he added.

Bharat vs Jurel – Who will get the nod?

The two other wicketkeepers in the squad are KS Bharat and Dhruv Jurel, both of whom have yet to make their test debut. Bharat, 28, is the more experienced of the two, having played 91 First-Class matches, in which he has scored 5,481 runs at an average of 37.57, with 14 centuries and 24 fifties. He has also taken 287 catches and 33 stumpings, proving his prowess behind the wickets.

Bharat got his maiden Test call-up after Pant’s injury and was the reserve keeper in South Africa. He also scored an unbeaten 116 in the first unofficial Test against England Lions in Ahmedabad earlier this month, which enhanced his chances of getting the nod for the first Test.

Jurel, who is 20 years old, is a talented young player. He played for the India Under-19 team that made it to the finals of the World Cup in 2020. He has played only 10 First-Class matches so far, in which he has scored 487 runs at an average of 32.46, with one century and two fifties. He has also taken 23 catches and four stumpings.

Jurel is considered to be a technically sound batsman and a safe pair of hands behind the wickets, but he might have to wait for his opportunity, as Bharat seems to have the edge over him in terms of experience and form.

Rahul’s role as a batsman

Dravid also clarified that Rahul’s exclusion as a wicketkeeper does not affect his chances of playing as a batsman in the series. He said that KL Rahul is a versatile player who can bat at any position in the top order, and his form and fitness will be taken into account while picking the playing XI.

“Rahul is an outstanding player, and he can bat anywhere in the top order. He has opened for us, he has batted at number three, he has batted at number five. So, he is someone who gives us a lot of options. Obviously, his form and fitness will be considered while picking the team,” Dravid said.

Rahul, who has played 42 Tests, has scored 2,006 runs at an average of 34.55, with five centuries and 11 fifties. He has also scored 1,478 runs in 17 Tests in India, at an average of 49.26, with four centuries and seven fifties. He wants to keep doing well in the matches at home and make sure he stays on the Test team.