India head coach Rahul Dravid on Tuesday said KL Rahul will not be keeping wickets in the five-match Test series against England, and it will be a toss up between KS Bharat and Dhruv Jurel for the wicketkeeper-batter role. Rahul had kept wickets in the two-match series against South Africa recently, and produced a rather nimble effort behind the stumps. The series against England starts here on Thursday.
“Rahul will not be playing as a wicket-keeper in this series and we are clear about that in the selection itself. We have picked two other wicket-keepers 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 here.
“But considering five Test matches (against England) and playing in these conditions the selection will be between the two other keepers we have,” he explained.
The nature of 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, a role that should be assigned to a specialist stumper.
The 31-year-old Bengaluru player, has been a designated wicketkeeper only thrice in his 92 First-Class matches and none of those appearances came in India.
In that context, it might not have been wise for the team management to pick Rahul as wicketkeeper against England, considering the fact that the visitors’ ‘Bazball’ style of cricket might just offer a few chances to the gloveman.
In contrast, Bharat, who stepped in when Rishabh Pant was injured in a car accident, has done reasonably well in the role, and often attracted plaudits.
Even though he has not really made a mark with the bat, his efforts behind the wickets cannot be brushed aside — from 91 First-Class matches, of which 82 have been in India, Bharat has amassed 287 catches and 33 stumpings.
Since Jurel is still a tad green behind the ears, Bharat is set to get the nod as wicketkeeper-batter for the series against England.
His unbeaten 116 that helped India A draw the first unofficial ‘Test’ against England Lions at Ahmedabad recently too might have boosted his stature in the eyes of the think-tank.
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