KL Rahul as stumper adds balance; will persist with him, says Virat Kohli
Bengaluru, Jan 20: Team India captain Virat Kohli has said that using K.L. Rahul as a wicketkeeper-batsman adds to the balance of the team, thus hinting that the Karnataka batsman may be used in the same role in the five-match T20I series in New Zealand.
Rahul was forced to keep wickets in the just concluded three-ODI series against Australia after regular stumper Rishabh Pant suffered from concussion in the first match in Mumbai. After that, Pant was ruled out of the second game and was not included in the third and final match as well which India won by seven wickets to clinch the series on Sunday.
"It definitely allows us to play an extra batsman. It is an important factor while choosing the side. You can look at Rahul Dravid's example in the 2003 World Cup, when he started keeping behind the stumps, the balance of the side became a lot better and the side was able to play an extra batsman," Kohli said after the post-match press conference at Chinnaswamy.
Rahul, who usually bats as an opener, was forced to play at No. 5 as Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma opened the innings in Rajkot. However, that didn't affect his form as Rahul scored a match-winning 80 of just 50 off balls and helped the team level the series.
"K.L. Rahul is open to playing anywhere, because he is a proper batsman. He is not a guy who will go slam bang from ball one, but he can do what he did in Rajkot, he has reflected on what he needs to do in the past six months. It is a boost that he can keep wickets as well," Kohli said.
In the final ODI, Rahul again opened the innings as Dhawan could not bat because of shoulder injury. Rahul, 27, again provided India with a solid platform and stitched a good opening partnership with Rohit. He, himself, couldn't score big contributing with just 19.
However, Kohli confirmed that the side would not tinker with their line-up for in the initial matches of the T20I series against the Black Caps starting January 25 at Eden Park.
"Well look we have what we have in the team. As I said, Rahul brings in balance into the side. We have to persist with it as he has done well. We have to see whether it works, you cannot chop and change. I do not see why we should change this playing XI," Kohli said.