KL Rahul was handed the wicket-keeping duties in the first One Day International against Bangladesh at Mirpur on Sunday as the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced that the team’s regular wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant was released from the ODI squad.
The statement from the Board said, “In consultation with the BCCI Medical Team, Rishabh Pant has been released from the ODI squad. He will join the team ahead of the Test series. No replacement has been sought.”
Pant is expected to rejoin the squad ahead of the first of two Test starting on December 14.
However, Rahul emphasized in the post-match conference that he was ready for the responsibility as he has always been aware of the possibility of taking up this role in white-ball cricket.
“We haven’t played a lot of ODIs in the past 6-7 months, but if you look at 2020-2021, I’ve kept wickets in the one-day format and I’ve batted at number four and five,” he said after the match. “It’s a role that the team has asked me to be ready for. When it comes to Rishabh (Pant), I’m not very aware to be honest. I just found out today in the dressing room that he was being released, I don’t know what the reasons are, maybe the medical team will be in a better position to answer that question.”
He added, “But this is a role that the team’s always asked me to be ready for in white-ball cricket, and I’ve done it before, and whenever the team wants me to play this role, I play this role.”
Although the BCCI clarified that the decision to release Pant was made ‘in consultation with the medical team,’ the release did not divulge many details.
Rahul was the only batter that stood out for India with his 70-ball 73 knock as the rest of the tourists batting disappointed before being bundled for 186.
Talking about his innings, he said, “It was just one of those days where, out of everybody else, I looked like I was timing the ball better and the shots that I picked, fortunately for me, went to the boundary, or every option that I took went my way.”
He added, “The pitches, even at the back [nets], have been quite similar to what we got in the middle today, so I tried to challenge myself. All the preparation happens before the game, so quite pleased with such innings really give you joy as a batter, because you’re challenged and you have to really put your hand up when your team requires, so I enjoyed my batting today.”
“But I would have ideally liked 30-40 more runs towards the end. I did fancy 230-240 if I batted till the end. [Mohammed] Siraj was batting well with me, so if I could have batted another 10 overs and got another 30-40 runs, it could have made a difference.”
Rahul also praised Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s high-risk approach in the 10th wicket stand with Mustafizur Rahman.
“That’s cricket right. You have to expect the unexpected As long as cricket has been played, these kind of things keep happening. They fought very well till the end and the couple of dropped catches and that phenomenal innings from Mehidy. He took some chances and big risks, which he had to, and he found the boundary. It puts the pressure on the fielding side, we will come back stronger,” the vice captain added.
Quotes from press conference courtesy: ESPN Cricinfo and PTI.