Team India head coach Rahul Dravid expressed that KL Rahul is confident of wicketkeeping for the upcoming Test series against South Africa, with the opening match will take on December 26 at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
Rahul has been keeping behind the wickets since his return to international cricket after injury layoff in Asia Cup 2023. The 30-year-old kept wickets in 35 ODIs and 8 T20Is for Team India. He donned the hat of wicketkeeper during the ODI World Cup 2023. However, Rahul is yet to take similar role in Test cricket.
KL Rahul, who was stand-in captain for India, wore gloves for the ODI series against South Africa. The Karnataka batter recently became the second Indian captain after Virat Kohli to win the ODI series against India.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Boxing Day Test in Centurion, Rahul Dravid confirmed that KL Rahul will take wicketkeeping duties in Test series against Proteas, adding that he is confident of his glove work behind the stumps in the longest format of the game. He also said that Centurion pitch offers more pace than spin and it will help KL Rahul get into the role with ease.
"It's an exciting challenge. It's an opportunity for him to do something different. With Ishan unavailable, we had a couple of keepers to choose from. Rahul is very confident about giving it a go. We understand that he hasn't done that quite often (in longest format), but he has done it in fifty overs, and even that is tough,” Indian head coach said.
“He has done a lot of keeping in the past five-six months. One of the things here is that there is more pace bowling than spin, which will ease him into the role. We will see how it goes. It is nice to have someone like him, someone who has the ability with the bat and keep,” he added.
KL Rahul fills in Rishabh Pant's shoes
KL Rahul took up role of wicketkeeper ever since Rishabh Pant ruled out of action for a year due to fatal car accident.
KS Bharat was handed Test debut cap in the series against Australia and kept wickets for India. However, he wasn't good with the bat.
Since KL Rahul returning to competitive cricket, Team India management decided to hand over wicketkeeper duties to the Karnataka batter until Rishabh Pant's return to international cricket.
Rahul had been doing excellent glove work behind the stumps during the Asia Cup and World Cup.
Moreover, the right-handed batter has been in excellent form since his return to competitive cricket. Rahul scored a century in his comeback match against Pakistan in Asia Cup.
In World Cup against Australia, Rahul scored an unbeaten 97 to help India chase down the target of 200 after Australia triggered an early collapse in India's batting. In the tournament, he aggregated 452 runs, including a century and two half-centuries, at an average of 75.33 in 11 matches.
KL Rahul will play his first match in whites since his return to competitive cricket in 1st Test against South Africa in Centurion.