KL Rahul clarifies player roles ahead of South Africa ODI series

Johannesburg: India return to ODI cricket for the first time since the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 Final.

KL Rahul is all set to lead the Indian side in the three-match ODI series against South Africa, starting on Sunday.

The wicketkeeper-batter will lead a relatively inexperienced side bereft of some of the big names, including Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah amongst others.

Ahead of the ODI series, Rahul delved into the roles of two pivotal players, starting with Sanju Samson, an ICC report said.

In August, Samson was named the stand-by player for the Asia Cup squad but failed to make the final cut for the tournament as well as the World Cup.

Samson has been in and out of the Indian squads but will get an opportunity to make a case for himself in the middle order, as revealed by KL Rahul.

“Sanju will bat in the middle order,” Rahul said in the press conference before the first ODI. That is the role he has played whenever he has played ODI cricket,” he said.

“He will bat at No. 5 or 6. For now I am going to keep wickets, but if there is an opportunity for him in that role, he will definitely at some point in the series,” Rahul said.

KL also spoke glowingly of Rinku Singh, hinting at a possible ODI debut in the upcoming series. Rinku has been in stellar form lately, first in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and more recently, for India.

In 12 T20Is so far, Rinku has accumulated 262 runs at an average of 65.5 and an eye-watering strike rate of 180.68.

In the recently concluded T20I series against South Africa, Rinku scored his maiden T20I fifty with a stunning 68 off 39 balls.

“He (Rinku Singh) has shown what a good player he is,” Rahul added.

“We all knew how skilled he is having watched him in the IPL, but what has been really good to see has been the temperament he has shown in the T20I series, and the game awareness and calmness under pressure. It was refreshing to see,” he said.

“He has performed well across formats in domestic cricket, so yes he will get his opportunity,” Rahul said.

The three-match ODI series, starting December 17 in Johannesburg, will be followed by a two-match Test series to be played under the World Test Championship umbrella.

On the eve of the first ODI, India announced a couple of late changes to the squads with Akash Deep replacing Deepak Chahar in the ODI squad and Mohammed Shami ruled out of the Test series due to fitness issues.

UNI

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