India veteran KL Rahul says he is willing to continue in the role of specialist wicket-keeper in ODI cricket if his side requires him to.
The absence of first choice keeper Rishabh Pant meant Rahul donned the gloves during the first ODI against Bangladesh on Sunday and the 30-year-old looked at home with an excellent performance with the gloves and with the bat in India’s middle-order.
Rahul came in at No.5 and top-scored for India with a stylish 73 and then held on to a difficult catch to dismiss Bangladesh skipper Litton Das in reply as the hosts pulled off a thrilling one-wicket victory in Mirpur.
It was the first time Rahul had kept wickets in India’s ODI side for more than a year, but the experienced right-hander is keen to continue in that role should selectors believe that is the best option.
“We haven’t played a lot of ODIs in the last six or seven months, but if you look at, since 2020 or 2021, I have kept wickets in the one-day format, and I have batted at No.4 and No.5 in the middle-order,” Rahul said.
“It’s a role the team has asked me to be ready for. I’ve done it before, and whenever the team wants me to play this role, I play this role.”
Rahul managed two half-centuries for India during the recent ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, but failed to reach double figures in four other knocks Down Under and finished with just 128 runs at an average of 21.33 for the tournament.
The attacking wicket-keeper-batter said he has been working hard on his batting since the T20 World Cup and was glad to be back among the runs at international level with yet another white-ball half-century.
“It was just one of those days where, out of everybody else, I looked like I was timing the ball better and the shots that I picked, fortunately for me, went to the boundary, or every option that I took went my way,” Rahul said.
“Something that I’ve been working on even in the last couple of sessions that we’ve been here in Bangladesh.
“The pitches, even at the back (nets), have been quite similar to what we got in the middle today, so I tried to challenge myself.
“All the preparation happens before the game, so quite pleased with such innings really give you joy as a batter, because you’re challenged and you have to really put your hand up when your team requires, so I enjoyed my batting today.”
KL Rahul wicketkeeping for India in a T20I in New Zealand in 2020KL Rahul wicketkeeping for India in a T20I in New Zealand in 2020
While happy with his individual score, Rahul was left to rue the fact he went out in the 40th over when some extra runs could have boosted India’s score and been pivotal to the outcome of the match.
“I would have ideally liked 30-40 more runs towards the end,” Rahul noted.
“I did fancy 230-240 if I batted till the end. (Mohammed) Siraj was batting well with me, so if I could have batted another 10 overs and got another 30-40 runs, it could have made a difference.”