Should KL Rahul succeed MS Dhoni as India's limited-overs wicket-keeper in the future?
Rahul kept wickets for the Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier this year.
If there is an area where the Indian team management will need to start looking at seriously in the time to come, it is at the prospect of finding who is the best man to replace Mahendra Singh Dhoni in limited-overs cricket.
While it can be said that Dhoni’s place in the Indian squad at the moment is pretty secured, he, like any other cricketer, will not be in the game forever and India will need to ensure that just like in Tests, where Wriddhiman Saha has taken over the mantle as the Number 1 keeper, they transition with little stutters in coloured clothing as well, as far as the wicket-keeper’s role was concerned.
The Men in Blue have a few options to consider for the role in coloured clothing, but the name that seems to be on top of the list is that of KL Rahul, who donned the gloves in the Indian Premier League(IPL) for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
His impressive showing with the bat in hand earned him a call-up for the Men in Blue’s tour to Zimbabwe and during that tour, Rahul showed great prowess with the bat, scoring his maiden ODI hundred in his debut innings.
But at practice sessions, Rahul was not just focussing on his batting, but also on his wicket-keeping if the fielding coach on the tour Abhay Sharma is to be believed.
“Rahul was working hard on his keeping skills during the Zimbabwe and Caribbean tour.He understood the suggestions we gave and tries to implement them during a few practice sessions. But there is a lot of difference in keeping wickets during practice sessions and in a match,“ Sharma said to the Times of India.
The words from the coach’s mouth certainly raise optimism for Indian cricket, who can now hope for the Karnataka lad to go from strength-to-strength in the coming days and perhaps another season of IPL, when he not just contributes with the bat but also pulls off good stumpings behind the wicket, could help increase his chances of becoming the number 2 to Dhoni in limited-overs cricket.
A factor that India will need to consider while auditioning Dhoni’s successor for the role is where he bats in the order. Rahul prefers to bat in the Top 4, and if that's the case, then India may have to play Dhoni, purely as a batsman at 6 or groom Rahul for a finisher’s role.
Dinesh Karthik is an option in that regard, since he bats in the middle order for his state side and Sanju Samson is also someone who could be considered.