Virat Kohli suggests KL Rahul will keep in T20Is too

'If he can keep that well, and perform well with the bat, then why not?' Kohli said a day before the first T20I in New Zealand

India captain Virat Kohli has suggested that KL Rahul will keep in the upcoming T20Is too, as it has given them an option of playing an extra batsman in the XI.
Rahul kept wickets in three ODIs against Australia at home - starting after Rishabh Pant suffered a concussion in the first game while batting - even though Pant was fit to play in the third game in Bengaluru, and Kohli said a day before the first T20I in New Zealand in Auckland that Rahul "doing really well with the [keeping] gloves" had "opened up another kind of scenario" for them.
With Shikhar Dhawan's injury, Rahul is also going to get back to opening in the T20Is in New Zealand.
"[Dhawan's injury] will certainly alter a few plans for us… in the one-day game, we'll have to think of sticking to the same what we did in Rajkot (in the second ODI), that will probably work best for us as a side, have another guy at the top and let KL just express himself at that position where he played really well," Kohli said. "In T20 cricket, obviously the dynamics change a little bit more, because we do have lower-order batsmen who have done well. We have a few more options there in terms of solidifying that spot and probably let KL bat at the top.
"Him doing really well with the gloves has really opened up another kind of scenario for us where it gives us a lot more balance in terms of playing an extra batter. If he can keep that well, and perform well with the bat, then why not? As I said, this is something that we are looking to continue for a while. And nothing taken away from anyone else, it's just what brings the best balance to the side."
With Pant unavailable for the second ODI against Australia and three openers to accommodate in the XI, Rahul kept wickets and scored a smashing 80 off 52 balls at No. 5 to turn the series around for India. Rahul was asked to open again in the decider with Dhawan's injury, but with five dismissals behind the stumps in the series and that impressive half-century in Rajkot, Kohli said they were going to "persist" with Rahul keeping and batting in the middle order for some more time.
Rahul has been moved around the batting order over the years, but has cemented a position for himself at the top in more recent times, and that has led to more consistent returns with the bat: he averages 47.86 and 45.50 in ODIs and T20Is in the last 12 months respectively, both higher than his career average.
"It's amazing. He is open to accepting any kind of role, whatever the team wants - he is a total team man and you can tell the way he keeps as well," Kohli said of Rahul's evolution. "He is always looking for an opportunity and looking to make a play, and he is not nervous about it; the collection of throws and getting to the stumps every ball, and he is just in the game. I think he relishes that much more than just being on the field and it's showing. He is more involved in the game, he is able to look at the field placements as well, so I think it engages him into the game in the right manner. It's wonderful to have a guy who can do both things well and bring balance to the team."
Dhawan and Sharma were India's original openers in limited-overs formats but Dhawan's succession of injuries and Rahul's form have put a spanner in the works. For now, India named Sanju Samson as Dhawan's replacement for the T20Is and Prithvi Shaw for the three ODIs to follow. India also have Mayank Agarwal, who was called up during the 50-over World Cup last year, and Shubman Gill in the ranks, who are currently representing India A in New Zealand.
"Continuity [is a problem], yes," Kohli accepted. "But in the meantime, if you talk about replacements, we have a lot of T20 players around, and people who are very experienced when it comes to playing T20 cricket, having played a lot of matches in the IPL and on 'A' tours and other series.
"I don't see an issue of replacement. But yes, an issue of continuity for sure. Look, whenever he (Dhawan) is back in the team - he's done well in the last game that he played - so we'd love to have him back and have that balance in the team where we can really go in with the best batting line-up that we have. But in the meantime, we don't have any issues with the replacements."