3 reasons why KL Rahul shouldn't have been picked for the England tour

Australia v India - 4th Test: Day 3
Australia v India - 4th Test: Day 3
Sai Krishna

When the Indian cricket team recently announced a trimmed 15-man squad for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand starting on June 18, KL Rahul was a notable absentee.

The batsman, who doesn't seem to be in India's first-choice red-ball plans at the moment, also sat out the entirety of the country's recent Test series against Australia and England. On the tour Down Under, he didn't play in either of the two warm-up matches either.

KL Rahul's future with the Indian Test team remains uncertain. Here are three reasons why he shouldn't have been picked for the England tour, which comprises of the World Test Championship final and a five-match Test series against the hosts.

#3 India don't have a spot in the playing XI for KL Rahul

Nottinghamshire v Warwickshire - LV= Insurance County Championship
Nottinghamshire v Warwickshire - LV= Insurance County Championship

To state the obvious, the Indian Test playing XI doesn't depend on KL Rahul, even as a backup option.

Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill are the first-choice openers, with the Indian management claiming that the batsmen will be backed to be the team's opening combination in the long run. Mayank Agarwal, who has an exceptional record at home and was dropped after only a couple failures, is waiting in the wings as the reserve opener.

In the middle order, too, spots are few and far between. Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane make up the backbone of the batting order, with Wriddhiman Saha's superior skills with the gloves making him Rishabh Pant's backup. Hanuma Vihari, the hero of the Sydney Test against Australia in January, can slot in at No. 6 if any of the above players are unavailable.

For KL Rahul, who hasn't played a Test since 2019 and doesn't have a fifty in his last 12 innings in the format, a spot in the playing XI may be too tall an ask.

#2 KL Rahul needs white-ball practice ahead of the T20 World Cup

New Zealand v India - ODI: Game 3
New Zealand v India - ODI: Game 3

While KL Rahul isn't in the scheme of things in the Test format, he remains an indispensable part of the white-ball setup. Opening the batting alongside Rohit Sharma and slotting in in the middle order whenever necessary, the Karnataka-born batsman has been a man for all seasons.

Ahead of the T20 World Cup, in which he is expected to play a starring role, Rahul could've used some white-ball match practice in Sri Lanka. India have announced a strong squad to tour the island nation next month, with several white-ball specialists like Hardik Pandya and Shikhar Dhawan named in the contingent.

The second half of the 2021 Indian Premier League will give KL Rahul some time to get accustomed to the rigors of T20 cricket, but the tour of Sri Lanka could've helped him immensely ahead of the T20 World Cup.

#1 KL Rahul could have captained India in Sri Lanka

New Zealand v India - ODI: Game 1
New Zealand v India - ODI: Game 1

During the winter, when India toured Australia for three ODIs and three T20Is, Rohit Sharma was absent due to injury. KL Rahul was named as captain Virat Kohli's deputy, given a leadership role for the first time with the national team.

After skippering the Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League, Rahul was rewarded for his exploits and clearly earmarked as a potential successor to Kohli. The 29-year-old appears to have a calm head on his shoulders and is definitely one of the candidates to lead the Indian team in the future.

But in his absence, India have handed the reins of the side to Dhawan for the Sri Lanka series. And while the southpaw could prove to be a capable captain, Rahul could've had his first taste of leadership at an international level - experience that could prove invaluable in the future.

By making KL Rahul miss out on the Sri Lanka series and having him warm the bench in England instead, the Indian selectors may have made a mistake.

Edited by Prasen Moudgal
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