'Why can't he be dropped? If you don't fit in the team...': Kapil Dev's brutal assessment of 'lucky' India batter
Kapil Dev, India's first-ever World Cup winner reckons that although he is fond of the batter, the management shouldn't thrust the player into the Playing XI if he doesn't warrant a place or in case it disrupts the team combination.
With just one day to go for the start of the much-awaited Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia, the home team is scurrying to figure its team combination for the series opener in Nagpur. With there being ample talk about the pitch at the VCA Stadium, who will feature in India's Playing XI is a whole new mystery altogether. During Team India's first official press conference of the series on Tuesday, KL Rahul addressed the topic as well, admitting that the management is indeed having a headache trying to figure out the best 11 players. Will it Rahul or Shubman Gill open with Rohit Sharma? If yes, who plays at No. 5? And will there be room for Suryakumar Yadav's debut? Who India go in with three spinners? If yes, who will it be between Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel. Plenty of questions remain unanswered.
Amid all this hoopla, former India captain Kapil Dev has raised an interesting point about vice-captain Rahul. The India batter has been backed to the hilt by the team management but hasn't been able to do justice to it. Furthermore, to add more intrigue, it is likely that Rahul will once again open with Rohit, which will then leave no room for Shubman Gill. Either Gill might be slotted in the middle order – which makes no sense – or he gets dropped to accommodate Suryakumar. Rahul has just played four Tests since the beginning of 2022 with just one half-century, which has forced Kapil to raise questions about his place in the team. Kapil, India's first-ever World Cup winner reckons that although he is fond of Rahul the batter, the management shouldn't thrust him into the XI if he doesn't warrant a place or in case it disrupts the team combination.
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"Why can't he be dropped? There should be no such rule. You need to look at team combination, who do we need. There is no necessity. In Indian cricket, I don't think there is ever a vice-captain. Back in the day, we had a new VC in every Test match. He is a very matured player; I even like him," Kapil said on Uncut.
"I consider him to be a fine batter but if he doesn't fit in the team, then let it be. The team comes first and I guess for that the captain and the management needs to take a call. Some players are lucky. Rahul Dravid too played many such matches where he was made to keep wicket."
In ODIs, Rahul has been pushed down the middle order, but whether Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid expect a similar role from him in Tests remain to be seen. On current form, Gill should undoubtedly be the one to open. He has already scored a century and a double century in ODIs this year, to go with a maiden hundred in T20Is against New Zealand, and if India need to look for a candidate prepare for the future, it is him. Another interesting dynamic that Rahul brings to the team is the wicketkeeping bit. With Ishan Kishan in the team, he is the designated keeper, but the management could be tempted to make Rahul take up the role for the time being as a stop-gap arrangement.