News

Rahulwatch - LSG want to ease their captain back

Rahul didn't keep wicket for much of training on the eve of the game, and stand-in captain Pooran only said "we'll see how he goes"

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
01-Apr-2024
KL Rahul trained with the team at the Chinnaswamy, but didn't do anything too strenuous  •  NurPhoto via Getty Images

KL Rahul trained with the team at the Chinnaswamy, but didn't do anything too strenuous  •  NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lucknow Super Giants will take a late call on KL Rahul's participation - whether in part or more - in Tuesday's away fixture against Royal Challengers Bengaluru. Rahul played as an impact substitute in Saturday's home game against Punjab Kings, with the LSG management keen on "easing him back" from injury.
IPL 2024 is Rahul's comeback tournament after a quadricep injury ruled him out of the last four Tests of the five-match series at home against England earlier this year. Rahul had pulled up with the same injury - against RCB, incidentally - during IPL 2023, and had to undergo surgery followed by lengthy rehabilitation.
"We'll see how he goes at training," stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran said when asked about Rahul's availability on Tuesday.
At training, Rahul did not keep wicket for most of the session. He first underwent a series of timed sprint and mobility drills that were monitored by head coach Justin Langer. Rahul then practiced the full range of his body movements while playing the sweep in particular and felt his left hamstring repeatedly. He then occupied a quiet corner of the field and kept a close eye on the session for more than an hour. Later, he examined at length the slightly unusual M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch that had more than a smattering of grass right through the 22 yards.
Rahul also padded up and went out for a hit against the team's net bowlers and throwdown specialists. After a 15-minute session, he got back to finishing a few more rounds of mobility drills before walking off to have another long chat with Langer. Only towards the very end of the day did he have a short go with the gloves.
"It's always tough when you have to change combinations," Pooran said when asked how Rahul's absence on the field had impacted the team so far. "Obviously, it's different with KL on the field. But our senior players came together and assisted me in making decisions as well. It's something that happens. Sometimes when your captain isn't available, all the senior players stand up, and try and make up for his absence."
LSG have one win and one loss in two games so far, with Rahul returning scores of 58 (in 44 balls, vs Rajasthan Royals) and 15 (in nine balls, vs Punjab Kings). He kept wicket only in the first game, before handing over the responsibility to Quinton de Kock for the second.
Rahul is among the contenders for the wicketkeeper-batter's slot in India's T20 World Cup squad.
Leading into the IPL 2024 season, there had been debate among observers whether he would bat in the middle order to play a similar role he plays for with the national team. So far, Rahul has opened in both matches.
"I am not going lose one second's sleep over KL Rahul," Langer had said on his regular captain last week. "He is a beautiful player, he's an outstanding player. There's a reason he's had so much success for India and I'm blessed to have him in our team, not only as an opening batsman or a batsman and wicketkeeper, but also as the captain. He is so calm. He's a wonderful person."

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo