KL Rahul or Ishan Kishan: India’s World Cup Dilemma

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Ishan Kishan played a very mature knock under pressure to take India to a respectable total. He walked in to bat during a very tricky situation when the team was tottering at 66-4. The Jharkhand batter stitched a very important partnership of 168 runs with Hardik Pandya. Kishan was cautious at the start of the innings and also looked a little edgy. But he kept rotating the strike and kept the scoreboard moving. He narrowly missed the hundred by 18 runs when he tried to pull Haris Rauf over the midwicket boundary for a maximum. He perfectly grabbed his opportunity with both hands in place of the injured KL Rahul. 

Babar Azam missed a trick of not giving his big 3 fast bowlers another 2-over spell when Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya were new to the crease. This helped Kishan to ease in to the innings and take his time. He was helped by Shadab who kept missing his lengths and bowling full tosses to the left hander. With 2 boundaries off full tosses, Kishan looked settled as he kept milking the spinners. He was very severe when the bowlers erred even slightly on the fuller or the shorter side. The impressive part of his innings was that he was able to rotate strike which he often struggles to do. This is a huge tick on his part with a huge improvement on his weakness. 

His calm and mature innings raised a lot of debate in the cricketing circles about whether India should continue to play him even when KL Rahul is injured. Many of the cricket pundits made bold claims about playing the left hander ahead of the experienced KL Rahul. But should he really feature ahead of the Karnataka batter?

KL or Kishan? 

The Indian management is in very tricky waters right now. India are in a selection dilemma once again before an ICC Tournament. Kishan has the rare ability to take the attack to the opposition and quickly change the momentum in no time. His lefthandedness adds more weight to him being selected ahead of KL. Kishan is someone very hard to ignore or be benched. Nothing to take away from his magnificent knock but the Pakistan spinners did not look threatening. A left arm spinner made it comparitively easier for Ishan to rotate the strike. Shadab too was not at his best as he kept erring in his line and lengths. He has hardly batted at that position before. This was the first time he has batted at number 5 in ODIs. Kishan has batted at number 4 six times and has scored 106 runs at a strike rate of 67.1 with a dot ball percentage of 62. This sole innings does not guarantee that he would do well consistently at that position time and again. 

In KL, India have an absolute banker. Rahul has been donning this role time and again for the last 3 years. He has been the best batsman at this position. He provides versatility to the batting line up. Rahul can switch gears according to the team’s needs. He does not get stuck at one end and can play second fiddle when the other batter is aggressive and quickly switch gears. He is one of the best hitters of pace and can clear the boundary with ease. Even though KL has been missing a lot of action since the IPL, he needs to be trusted. He is very familiar with the role and has now got loads of experience under his belt on how to play at that position.

Kishan can blow hot and cold sometimes. He can get stuck at one end trying to muscle the ball over the ropes. Kishan can be menacing and terrifying to the opposition but in KL India have got solidity and assurance. And it is very late to experiment with the World Cup less than 2 months away. 

We have seen the management succumb to the outside noise many times. While the outside noise is in favor of the Jharkhand batter, India needs to keep faith on the calm, composed, and assured KL Rahul to do the job for India. India cannot afford any more selection blunders. The management needs to place their bet on the Karnataka batter and let him weave his magic as the World Cup unfolds. Because he’s been there, done that… for many times. 

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