Former India opener Gautam Gambhir feels that out-of-form batsman KL Rahul should play in all three ODIs despite his struggles in the T20Is against England.

KL Rahul had a disastrous run in the T20I series. He registered scores of 1, 0, 0 and 14 in the first four matches, and was dropped for the decider as Virat Kohli moved up to open.

According to Gambhir, the only way to get KL Rahul back in form is by getting him to play matches. The former cricketer told ESPNCricinfo:

“Dropping anyone will not do them any favour. He (Rahul) will have to play three ODIs. Someone is out of form, the only way you can bring them back is by giving them more opportunities.”

“Because when you are sitting on the bench, it is not a good feeling. Because you know you have been dropped, and that feeling is not the best feeling,” Gambhir added.

KL Rahul was the highest run-getter in IPL 2020. He was also outstanding in the T20Is in New Zealand early last year, with 224 runs in five games at a strike rate of 144.52. However, since returning to the side following a wrist injury, he hasn’t been the same.

Can KL Rahul find a place in the playing XI in the first ODI?

Indian captain Virat Kohli on Monday confirmed that Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will be the first-choice openers in the one-dayers. Kohli said at a virtual press conference:

“As far as the opening combination is concerned, Shikhar (Dhawan) and Rohit (Sharma) will definitely start. When it comes to one-day cricket, I don’t think there are any issues or doubts with Rohit or Shikhar opening together.”

With Kohli himself slated to come in at number three and Shreyas Iyer occupying the number four slot, the one possible way KL Rahul can make it to the playing XI is if he keeps wickets instead of Rishabh Pant.

On current form, though, the team think-tank will find it hard to leave out Pant. The other alternative could be to bring in KL Rahul ahead of Iyer. But that would defy cricketing logic as the latter has been in very good form.

Also, Suryakumar Yadav himself is said to be in contention for a middle-order spot. If he gets the same, it would mark the batsman’s ODI debut.

It’s a problem of plenty for India. And in the current scenario, things are not looking all that rosy for KL Rahul. Then again, it could only be a matter of time before fortunes turn around.

KL Rahul knows a thing or two about it, having been on the international scene for a while now.

Published 23 Mar 2021, 00:10 IST