Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has already started planning for the World Test Championship (WTC) Final to be held at The Oval in June. The board is in contact with the England and Wales Cricket Board to arrange a three-day practice game, while the selectors are discussing a plan to keep KL Rahul in the playing XI as the wicket-keeper after an unimpressive display by KS Bharat in Rishabh Pant’s absence.
__- “WTC final will be held at oval “.
Let’s relive #klrahul_ iconic 149 at oval .#KLRahulpic.twitter.com/PwDn776IIJ
— _________ (@LordGod188) March 11, 2023
The selectors want the sacked vice-captain, KL Rahul, to keep wickets in the WTC Final to justify his selection. They also want to have Suryakumar Yadav as an enforcer in the middle order if Shreyas Iyer doesn’t make it in time for the final. However, a decision on KL Rahul’s keeping duties will be taken during the IPL 2023. The selectors want to keep a tab on how Rahul holds up due to his history of injuries. If he passes with flying colours, KL Rahul is likely to keep wickets. However, KL Rahul has never kept wickets in Tests.
A senior BCCI official told Insidesport, “Rahul keeping wickets will help us in many ways. We can tinker with the bowling combination as well as have an extra batter. But it will obviously depend on how KL holds up during IPL. We will take a call close to the squad announcement. But in any case, Bharat will be there. He needs the experience of being around big matches.”
Shubman Gill is now India’s all-format player, and with the performances he has shown, he will keep his place. But Gill will be dropped down to the middle order with KL Rahul opening with Rohit Sharma. Despite a poor run of form, KL Rahul’s record in England on the last tour works for him. However, to justify his selection, he will have to don the big gloves in a Test.
KS Bharat did not help his cause with the bat in the Border Gavaskar Trophy in Rishabh Pant’s absence. Instead, the selectors want him to continue to develop in other Tests while in the one-off WTC Final, Rahul is likely to keep. Rahul keeping wickets will open up a space in the playing XI. India can ideally play one extra batter in Axar Patel. In the bowling department, India will have Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat travelling, and one of them will play in the final.
The idea of KL Rahul keeping wickets has been echoed by two former India players, Sanjay Manjrekar and Ravi Shastri. Both backed Rahul to keep wickets to help create a space for Axar Patel. However, Shastri is of the idea that Rahul should be India’s No. 5 at The Oval, with Shubman opening alongside Rohit.
The BCCI Selection Committee, led by Shiv Sunder Das, will announce the squad for the WTC Final in April. India qualified for the WTC Final behind Australia after New Zealand beat Sri Lanka in the first Test. However, Shreyas Iyer is doubtful for the clash with a back injury. Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of the ODI series and did not bat in the fourth Test. The BCCI nor the National Cricket Academy has issued a timeline for his return. As things stand, Iyer is likely to miss the first half of the IPL, but his return could be longer if surgery is considered. A senior BCCI official said, “We have time, but it looks difficult for Shreyas. If he is available, he will definitely be in the squad. But we have to wait and see how it turns out.”