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News

Rahul in sharp touch during indoor training session

He moved his feet well and timed punches and half-drives to perfection, but did not undertake any wicketkeeping drills

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
07-Sep-2023
KL Rahul trains in Bengaluru in the lead-up to the Asia Cup, Bengaluru, August 29, 2023

KL Rahul trained in Bengaluru in the lead-up to the Asia Cup; he has not played an ODI since March  •  PTI

After linking up with the India squad in Colombo on Tuesday, KL Rahul had his first session at the Nondescripts Cricket Club indoor nets on Thursday. Heavy rain accompanied by winds lashed the Sri Lanka capital in the morning, forcing India to have their optional training indoors.
Rahul was part of a select group - Hardik Pandya, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Shubman Gill and Shardul Thakur were the others - that trained under the watchful eyes of head coach Rahul Dravid and batting coach Vikram Rathour. He began with a few throwdowns and batted in rotation with Iyer. There was no visible discomfort as he moved his feet well and timed the punches and half-drives to perfection.
Rahul, who last played an ODI in March, tore a tendon in his right thigh during the IPL and had to undergo surgery in May. He was selected in the Asia Cup squad following extensive rehab at the NCA but was ruled out of the first two matches after picking up a fresh niggle.
"KL is looking good. We feel this gives us the best balance to try and do well," chief selector Ajit Agarkar had said after Rahul was named in the World Cup squad earlier this week. "With KL, he was part of the camp in Bangalore. He looked really good there and has got over his niggle. He played a couple of games over the last two days. I think he kept for 50 overs and batted for around 50 overs too. So he looks good and we're happy to have him."
Rahul then got through two sessions of throwdowns, with the second focused primarily on the left-arm over-the-wicket angle with throwdown specialist Nuwan Seneviratne feeding him deliveries. A while later, he ran a few sprints in one of the nets. Rahul, though, did not undertake wicketkeeping drills.
Rahul may not have played a competitive game since the start of May, but he remains firmly in India's plans as their wicketkeeper. With Ishan Kishan scoring a fighting half-century and helping India recover from a shaky start against Pakistan, the choice between him and the returning Rahul will be a tough one.
Since the 2019 men's World Cup, Rahul has averaged 55.64 - behind only Sanju Samson among all keepers to played at least five games in the period - and struck at 97.61 in 18 ODIs as India's designated wicketkeeper. Agarkar did not reveal if India would leave out Kishan, who brings in the left-hand factor, for India's Super Fours clash against Pakistan and said, "The captain-coach will sit down and decide what's best for the team on a given day. We're happy to have two options who will fight for a place in the team than the other way round."

Gill prepares for round two against Afridi


Rahul aside, Gill had a longish stint in nets, facing throwdowns from Seneviratne. The India opener was kept quiet by the Pakistan pacers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah before inside-edging one off Haris Rauf for 10 off 32 balls.
Gill was consciously trying to get a stride forward while playing his drives and was mindful of not falling over while playing the flick through the on side. After a stint in the nets, he looked at video footage of his session before proceeding to have another spell.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo