The debate surrounding the inclusion of KL Rahul or Ishan Kishan in India’s playing XI for the upcoming cricketing events has been a hot topic of discussion. While India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, and chief selector, Ajit Agarkar, have remained tight-lipped about their decision, the majority of former cricketers have come out in favour of the left-handed Kishan.
KL Rahul has been a valuable asset for the Indian cricket team for several reasons. Firstly, he cemented his place at the No. 5 spot through consistent performances. Secondly, his proficiency as a wicketkeeper-batsman provided balance to the Indian ODI side, particularly when Rishabh Pant was unavailable.
Ishan Kishan’s shifted role
However, the dynamics began to shift after the IPL 2023 season. Ishan Kishan, originally a backup opener, was thrust into the role of wicketkeeper when Rahul sustained a thigh injury. Kishan embraced the opportunity with vigour and emerged as the top run-scorer in the West Indies ODIs, notching up three consecutive half-centuries.
Though Kishan’s favoured batting position had been as an opener, he was called upon to bat at No. 5 during the group stage of the Asia Cup when Rahul was sidelined due to injury. In this unfamiliar role, Kishan delivered a standout performance against Pakistan. In a situation where India was reeling at 66 for 4, Kishan partnered with Hardik Pandya in a record-breaking fifth-wicket stand that rescued the team. While he fell short of a century due to cramps, his blistering 82-run knock left experts convinced of his capabilities.
Gautam Gambhir and Aakash Chopra share their insights
Former cricketer Gautam Gambhir minced no words, stating, “India will make a huge blunder if they don’t play Ishan Kishan ahead of KL Rahul.” This viewpoint underscores the growing chorus in favour of Kishan’s inclusion.
Aakash Chopra, another former Indian cricketer, lauded Kishan’s ability to deliver under pressure. Chopra emphasized that while Kishan’s spot in the Indian squad has been far from guaranteed, he consistently performs when given an opportunity.
Chopra stated, “Ishan Kishan doesn’t get many opportunities, but when he does, there’s pressure on him. He has scored a double century, and even after that, we don’t see him getting many chances, which is a fact because he wasn’t included in the very next series after his double century. Where Ishan will bat in this team is a separate issue, dependent on various circumstances, but he has understood the pulse of the ODI format.”
India is set to face Pakistan once again in their first Super 4 stage match in the Asia Cup. KL Rahul is expected to return to the mix, primarily to assess his fitness before the World Cup. However, the question that lingers is whether it would be fair to replace Kishan, who has displayed remarkable prowess and adaptability in recent games.