'He will become a very useful player' - Ishant Sharma on KL Rahul's significance in ODI World Cup in Rishabh Pant's absence
"If you don't have a wicketkeeper, you can play an extra batter and give the wicketkeeper's role to KL Rahul," said Ishant Sharma.
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Veteran India pacer Ishant Sharma said that Rishabh Pant's potential absence makes KL Rahul a significant factor for team India in the ODI format heading into the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
Notably, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) provided a medical report on the injured players' current status. Rahul has resumed batting in the nets while Pant has also begun batting and keeping in the nets but is unlikely to play competitive cricket anytime soon.
During a discussion on JioCinema, Ishant was questioned if he saw Rahul as the wicketkeeper-batter in India's ODI setup for the World Cup. To which he responded that Rahul can be good behind the stumps and that he can get runs if he bats in the fourth or fifth position.
"Absolutely, if Rishabh Pant is not there, that slot becomes very important. He (Rahul) was batting at No. 4 or No. 5 in any case and scoring runs. If you don't have a wicketkeeper, you can play an extra batter and give the wicketkeeper's role to KL Rahul. So, obviously, he will become a very useful player in the ODI format," Ishant said.
If Rahul gets fit, I think he will straightaway walk into the side: Wasim Jaffer
Former India cricketer Wasim Jaffer reckoned that KL Rahul has been in fine form in the 50-over format in the last couple of years. He expects the 31-year-old to be included in India's ODI side as soon as he gets fit.
"He is a very important player for this team. He has been in excellent form, especially in the ODI format in the last one or two years. He is a wicketkeeper and can bat both up and down the order but he has performed exceptionally well at No. 5. So if he gets fit, I think he will straightaway walk into the side," Jaffer stated.
KL Rahul has amassed 1986 runs at an outstanding average of 45.13 in 54 ODI games. The Lucknow Super Giants skipper is currently recovering from the thigh injury he suffered during the 2023 Indian Premier League.