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Can KL Rahul pose himself as an able replacement for MS Dhoni as a keeper batsman?

Rahul
Royal Challengers Bangalore wicketkeeper Lokesh Rahul. (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Indian cricket is currently in safe hands with quite some youngsters coming through the ranks and performing at the highest level. If there is one particular aspect that the team management is concerned about is finding someone who can fill in for MS Dhoni once he calls it a day from limited-overs cricket as well.

Since his arrival in 2004 Dhoni solved the big time issue that the team had with discovering someone who can bat as well as keep the wickets, some of the players tried were good with either whereas the Ranchi boy excelled in both the aspects of the game. And now that he is moving towards the twilight of his career, it certainly won’t be an easy task getting a like for like replacement.

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India has quite some options available in the likes of Sanju Samson who is playing for India A, Test keeper Wriddhiman Saha. But someone who is not a full-time gloveman KL Rahul appears to be the front-runner in the contest to fill in the big shoes of MS Dhoni. To fit into the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the recent IPL season Rahul took over the gloves and did a decent job but one could see the scope for improvement.

On the back of some match-winning knocks in the IPL, he was called up in the Indian limited-overs squad for the Zimbabwe tour. He has been in tremendous form since then and being a specialist batsman who can take over the wicketkeeping responsibility he gives the management an option to play either an extra batsman or a bowler. Rahul can be considered as an all-rounder who takes up two roles for the team.

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If Team India’s fielding coach on the tour of West Indies Abhay Sharma is to be believed, Lokesh Rahul was focussing on batting and wicket-keeping during the last couple of series.

“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.

But the fact remains that he needs some serious work on his skills behind the stumps to be able to handle things with the pressure of ODI and T20I cricket. He was a wicketkeeper during his age group days but never after that until this season of the IPL. He has time on his side as Dhoni is in no mood to retire anytime in the near future and the temperament Rahul has shown definitely suggests he can develop himself into a full-fledged wicketkeeper-batsman for the team.

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