The biggest question pertaining to the Indian team, which began since Saturday evening during the washed-out Pakistan clash and will remain probably throughout the ODI World Cup campaign at home, is choosing between Ishan Kishan and KL Rahul as the first-choice wicketkeeper. The equation was simple when India had picked their Asia Cup squad last month with the return of Rahul in the team after a long injury lay off. He would have resumed his No. 5 role with no further headache to have. But all until Saturday, when his replacement, Ishan Kishan, batting at that same No. 5 spot, for the first time in his ODI career, scored a stunning 82 against Pakistan in India’s Asia Cup opener.
Former India cricketers in Gautam Gambhir and Mohammad Kaif had engaged in a heated discussion on the night of that knock over whom should India prefer when Rahul, who missed the first two Asia Cup matches owing to a fresh niggle, returns to the Indian team for the Super Four matches. A day later, the likes Ravi Shastri and Matthew Hayden had added a fresh twist to the debate by adding “horses for courses” theory in choosing between the two.
However, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, speaking to India Today on Tuesday, moments after India’s squad announcement for the ODI World Cup, dragged Shreyas Iyer into the discussion. He explained that with Ishan in form, having scored four fifties in a row in the format, the fight should be between Iyer and Rahul for the No. 4 spot, hence teasing the idea that both the latter and Ishan could be part of the same XI.
“It could be a fight between Shreyas Iyer and KLRahul for the No. 4 spot. While Ishan Kishan, with the kind of form that he is in stays in the team as a batter, Rahul can keep wickets. But if Rahul and Ishan both plays then it would be better of Ishan keeps wickets because Rahul has undergone some serious injuries,” he said.
While the World Cup is still a month away, the Rahul versus Ishan debate is likely to be settled during the Super Four matches, which begins from September 9 onwards in Colombo with India taking on Pakistan again, and more so during the three-match ODI series against Australia later this month.