All of a sudden KL Rahul has become the biggest contender to underperforming MS Dhoni in limited-overs cricket. Rahul has scored his maiden hundred on debut against Zimbabwe. He scored a sensible hundred from 115 balls while chasing a below par total of 168. Rahul has also scored a 33, and an unbeaten 63 in the third ODI.
A rising star in Indian cricket, who started his career as a Test batsman, was initially regarded as the Test specialist but his sensational form in Indian Premier League (IPL) impressed BCCI selectors and called him for the ODI and T20 series against the African country.
Rahul justified his selection with a whopping average of 196. Rahul will get further opportunity to show his potential in a four-match Test series against West Indies and may be during a long home series in winter.
The Karnataka batsman has impressed Indian cricket community with a hundred as an opener at Sydney Cricket Ground in 2014 in the second Test match of his career.
Moreover, Rahul is also an occasional wicket-keeper. He is more like his most famed namesake Rahul Dravid who used to keep the wicket in limited over cricket. But the junior Rahul did the job in Test cricket and in IPL. His wicketkeeping though is nowhere near Dhoni’s brilliance with the glove, but he is a genuine batsman who can help India as a wicketkeeper-batsman in limited-overs cricket like ‘The Wall’.
Rahul’s performance drew a comparison with struggling MS Dhoni because the Indian limited over captain, who retired from Test cricket in 2015 after the end of Australia tour, failed to perform for India on important occasions. His only remarkable performance came at a time when Indian team crumbled against the South African in Indore ODI in 2015. Dhoni’s innings salvaged India late on to win the match and level the series.
But since then he failed to show his old charm, according to many, the 35-year-old Indian captain has passed his prime. He should retire from all form of international cricket and vacant his position to youngsters like KL Rahul.
Currently, the Karnataka young bloke looks promising prospect for the slot of wicketkeeper-batsman. Indian cricket is not traditionally blessed with wicketkeeper batsmen who can replace MS Dhoni, so BCCI would not want to waste a talent like Rahul letting him play in only Test cricket.
Rahul needs much-needed exposure in international cricket. With the age (24years) is KL Rahul’s side, Dhoni should give him the opportunity to improve his glove work before the 2019 World Cup.
Dhoni should set a goal for himself to play in the 2017 Champions Trophy which will be played in England where seaming wicket will trouble most batsmen. So, on a wet English pitch, India will need technically equipped batsman and for that KL Rahul is the best bet for India.
Rahul will not get his place in the team until a slot of wicketkeeper-batsman gets vacant.
Dhoni should evaluate his form and confidence after the Champions Trophy. If he fails to perform and if India under his captaincy fails to produce a good result in the tournament, BCCI selectors should make Virat Kohli the captain of Indian side and Dhoni should retire from all form of international cricket to do justice to his fame and help a wicketkeeper-batsman rise in his position.