KL Rahul’s return to wicketkeeping puts him back in the India frame

KL Rahul for LSG, LSG vs RR, IPL 2024 (Image: IPL)

Right through his career, much has been said about KL Rahul being given a long rope. And the trolls have had an absolute feast going after him for days on end. The injury in the 2023 IPL did not help and some even rejoiced saying good riddance, for he wouldn’t be available for the World Test Championship (WTC) final. In fact, had it been Rahul instead of KS Bharat, the final could have been a different story.

Thereafter, he had a really good World Cup and his hundred at Centurion in South Africa was one of the best we will see in Test cricket. Just when it seemed Rahul was back to his best, he suffered yet another injury. And this time, the seriousness was not known to anyone. Each time the Indian team for the next Test against England was announced, we felt Rahul would be back. It did not happen and he even had to travel overseas to understand the injury better. That’s how his career has been. Stop and start. Despite all the talent, he hasn’t done justice to himself and that’s largely because of the injuries he has suffered.

That’s why when Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) stepped out on Sunday, all eyes were on Rahul. Would he keep wickets or would he not? If he doesn’t, it would be very difficult for him to make the middle order of the Indian team in the T20 format. Rinku Singh has done enough in recent months to stake a claim, and Rahul hasn’t played enough cricket to make himself a certainty. As wicketkeeper, however, things are different. With all the drama surrounding Ishaan Kishan, there is every chance for Rahul to make the team as keeper. And that’s why it was very good to see him take the gloves for his team.

But is he fully fit? How well is he moving? We needed answers and we got them when Jos Buttler edged one off Naveen-ul-Haq. Rahul’s early movement was to the left. Clearly, he was unsighted by the delivery. And it was very late when he changed direction and realised that the ball was coming to his right and low. The changeover was quick and the dive timed to perfection. The catch was completed, and the dangerous Buttler dismissed. For all of us, it was more. It was the return of Rahul as keeper and proof that he is finally fit to resume duty for the national team behind the stumps, if asked to do so.


With Rishabh Pant still on the comeback trail, there is reason to think he is India’s best bet to keep wickets and bat in the middle order in the T20 World Cup. Keeping wickets, holding the middle order together and batting with the tail – there is not a thing Rahul can’t do.

For the longest time, Rahul has been his own opponent. With an abundance of talent, he has not been able to deal with the weight of expectations. That’s what Rahul needs to win against. And stay fit. He is his own opponent, for with his talent, he will succeed more often than not. All he needs to do is conquer the fitness demons and he would be in full flow.

Image: IPL

For his fans, Rahul is penning his own story. And needless to say, his is a tale of survival. Can there be bigger redemption for Rahul than being able to keep and bat well after all that he has been through? Perhaps not, and truth be told, he knows it better than anyone. Wish him all the best for the IPL, and beyond.


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