Five possible replacements for KL Rahul in India’s Champions Trophy campaign
|Fri Apr 21 2017
KL Rahul has become a household name in India over the last past year. Ever since he came into the limelight post his sensational performances for the RCB in the IPL. He was drafted into the limited overs squad and soon, Rahul cemented his place in the team. So who could be the possible replacements for KL Rahul in India’s Champions Trophy campaign?
However, injuries have plagued Rahul throughout his short international career and he has, once again, been sidelined due to a shoulder injury. Rahul sustained his latest injury while playing the 1st Test against Australia in Pune but he played through the pain and scored 6 fifties in 7 innings.
Rahul was ruled out of the IPL and now, he has himself conceded that the chances of him being fit before the Champions Trophy are very very slim. He underwent surgery that needs at least 2-3 months to recover from. “I had torn my labrum. I couldn’t get into a few positions because my shoulder kept dislocating – popped out and popped back in.
That’s why I couldn’t play a lot of shots, had to restrict myself. I played with a lot of medication and taping. Surgery was to fix it on the inside’’, Rahul said while explaining the extent of his injury. While we wish Rahul a speedy recovery, here’s a look at 5 possible replacements for him in the Indian team for the Champions Trophy 2017.
5) SHIKHAR DHAWAN
Shikhar Dhawan has been in and out of the Indian team lately. He has been extremely inconsistent for the Indian team and has been given a bucket load of opportunities over the years. However, he has been dropped from all the squads since Rahul became a permanent opener for India. Dhawan has been in decent form in this IPL.
Scoring a quick 70 in his last match may have just helped him grab the selectors’ attention. He has scored 205 runs in 6 matches at a strike rate of 120 and average of 34.16 and has been unusually impressive. Hence, he may have a genuine chance of staging a comeback to the Champions Trophy squad, the same platform from where he had announced his arrival in 2013. Also, the English conditions might be suitable for Dhawan.
4) SANJU SAMSON
Sanju Samson is a name that has been associated with immense talent over the last few years. However, it is in this season of the IPL that he is really coming into his own. He has already struck a century this season and it really helps his case that he has been opening the batting for the Daredevils.
Another added benefit of having Samson in the team is that he could act as a wicket-keeping back-up for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He has already scored 215 runs in 5 matches at a strike rate of 142 and average of 43. The Indian selectors would surely be keeping an eye for Samson and he might just get a surprise call into the Indian team.
3) MANISH PANDEY
Manish Pandey has been warming the bench and has got limited opportunities to play as a middle-order batsman or as a finisher in the Indian team. However, he is most effective when he bats up the order. He was a specialist opener until a few years ago. He also became the first Indian to score a century in the IPL when he opened the innings for RCB at the age of 19. He has been a batting mainstay for the KKR at the no. 3 spot for 3 years and has been playing at no. 4 this year.
He has been in red hot form scoring 221 runs in 4 innings at a strike rate of 150 and average of 221. He also held the Orange Cap for a while. What has been admirable is the way Manish has paced his innings in all the matches in this IPL. Hence, the selectors might select the Karnataka batsman as an opener for the Champions Trophy. With Jadhav settled as the finisher of the team, Manish would be an ideal replacement for Rahul in the lineup.
2) RISHABH PANT
This man can be described as the latest sensation of Indian cricket. A left-handed wicket-keeper batsman who has the ability to strike the ball out of the stadium is an asset for any team. He is already being compared to legends like Adam Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag. He has already donned the Indian jersey in a T20 game.
He had a magnificent Ranji season where he scored a triple century and also, the fastest century in Ranji Trophy off only 48 balls. He can also be a wicket-keeping backup for MS Dhoni. He has grabbed eyeballs in this IPL due to his high strike rate of 167.85 and hitting ability. Although he isn’t opening in the IPL, Pant would certainly be on the selectors’ radar as a potential replacement for Rahul.
1) GAUTAM GAMBHIR
The 35 year old veteran has been one of the best openers for India. He also played a crucial role in India winning the World Cup final in 2011. However, due to poor form, he has been sidelined from the limited overs squad for quite a few years. However, Gambhir might just be the experienced opener that the young Indian team needs.
Although many believe that Gautam is not ideal for the limited overs format anymore, he has consistently proved his critics wrong. Gambhir has been brilliant in this IPL for the Kolkata Knight Riders scoring 196 runs in 5 matches at a strike rate of 142 and average of 65.33. He may be a fantastic replacement for Rahul as his experience might really come in handy for a young Indian team.