Rahul 'is The Custodian Of The' Allows Us To Play An Extra Racket Kohli > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Rahul 'the keeper' allows us to play an extra batsman - Kohli

KL Rahul impressed in his role as a wicketkeeper in the second ODI vs Australia

KL Rahul impressed in his role as a wicketkeeper in the second ODI vs Australia

Despite Rishabh Pant regaining fitness, India will continue to hand over the gloves to KL Rahul in the shorter formats at least in the near future, according to skipper Virat Kohli. Rahul, who has been in good form of late, came up with a match-winning 52-ball 80 in the second ODI in Rajkot against Australia, in a game where he was also the designated wicketkeeper in Pant's absence. His versatility in the batting order has earned high praise from Kohli who is now keen on continuing with this combination in New Zealand as well later this week.

"Rahul really brings in a good balance to keep that well and bat that well in that position," Kohli said after India's series win in Bangalore on Sunday (January 19). "It's just that he's come into that slot and has done well. We'll have to persist with that a little bit and see where that takes us and not necessarily be confused about the other options that we have. I think lack of clarity in terms of positions in the past has really hurt us.

"Now that we understand that this team is right, we're going to go ahead with that for a while and figure out whether this is the right team or not. We can't chop and change immediately and create confusion within the group. We're playing well, unchanged team, and we did the job again. Two wins back to back... I don't see any reason why we should change this balance as it has done well."

Kohli also drew parallels with India's formula in the 2003 World Cup where the then team management convinced former captain Rahul Dravid to don the gloves in order to accommodate an extra batsman. Kohli feels India can adopt a similar strategy if Rahul can continue to deliver in the middle order while being the first-choice keeper at the same time. "It definitely allows us to play an extra batsmen which strengthens our batting massively," he pointed out. "That is a very important factor as far as the team balance is concerned. If you look at the 2003 World Cup where Rahul bhai started keeping, the balance became different because you could play an extra batter and guys at the top could really play positive cricket.

"He is very open to playing anywhere because he is a proper batsman and does good in any format and any position in the game. He won't go slam-bang from ball one but he can do what he did in Rajkot just playing good cricketing shots. So I think solid game plan and understanding of his game is helping. He has reflected on what he needs to do in the last five-six months and he has come a long way."

India's come-from-behind win in the series against Australia was vital in terms of confidence ahead of a long challenging tour of New Zealand, according to Kohli.

"It's something we spoke in the warm-up that it's the last game that we're playing this series and if we win, we go on a tour on a happy note and you start well," he noted. "The energy in the group is good. It's very important. It can go under the radar a little bit if you lose. You can say it's one loss and carry on, but when you win, you really look forward to getting to the next assignment and playing together as a team and playing well. Especially also because the last two wins were tough. We had to work hard and really play our best cricket to get those victories. And we did so under pressure. That always boosts your confidence and we're definitely looking forward to going to New Zealand now."

With India's tour set to kick off with a T20I in just 4 days time, Kohli feels that it's vital to set the tone early instead of playing catch up cricket later on in the series. Kohli believes India can also take inspiration from India's performance in New Zealand last year where they dominated the ODI series to win 4-1 before losing a closely fought T20I series 2-1. This time, India will play five T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests.

"Clarity of mind is really crucial because we're playing in conditions that are not ours, so we have to take even more intensity into that series to put the home team under pressure, set that sort of template from game one and build from there," Kohli said. "We can't afford to ease into the series after two games, because then it keeps getting tougher and tougher, so we'll look to make a mark in the first game that we play, play expressive cricket and be sure of what we want to do.

"Last time we beat New Zealand in both series (one) so we're taking a lot of confidence from that. We were very positive in how we played, very sure of what we wanted to do. The thing about playing away is if you're able to put the home team under pressure, you can enjoy your cricket. You have to win at home, there's that sort of feeling. So if you bring out your A game, you can really put them under pressure. That's what we did last year, squeezed them in the middle overs, picked up wickets, spinners were outstanding. Looking forward to taking that same intensity into the series."

Live Home Series
Player Schedule
Points Table Cricket Rankings
Cricket Clothing Cricket Equipment
Cricinfo Apps Download