Predominantly an opener, KL Rahul is reportedly keen on establishing himself as a middle-order batter across all formats.
He is set to take the gloves in Test cricket while batting in the middle and also played as a wicketkeeper at No.5 in the ODI World Cup. The keeper is now keen on establishing himself down the order in the shortest format as well.
According to a report in Cricbuzz, Rahul is keen on claiming his berth in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup in the middle-order. He has also explored the possibility with his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Lucknow Super Giants (LSG).
One of the two new teams to get added a couple of seasons ago, LSG have done well so far with Rahul as the captain, making it to the playoffs in both editions of IPL. But in both of them, KL Rahul opened the innings even as his strike rate at the top of the order was questioned more than once.
Rahul scored 274 runs at a meagre strike rate of 113.22 in nine matches last season before getting ruled out due to injury.
He was heavily criticised by many for his slow batting at the top. Coming back to his decision to slot in the middle order, KL Rahul is keen on making the shift with multiple openers available in the LSG squad.
Quinton de Kock and Kyle Mayers have been retained for IPL 2024 by LSG while the franchise got hold of Devdutt Padikkal in the trading window.
This means either De Kock or Mayers will open the innings potentially with Padikkal if Rahul’s move down the order is approved, which looks like a possibility now given the options at the top.
Interestingly, the 31-year-old has batted only in six innings in the middle-order in T20I cricket scoring 174 runs. Moreover, one of his two centuries in the shortest format came while batting in the middle order.
How will KL Rahul in the middle affect LSG's batting order?
Having said that, the change in the batting order for KL Rahul might also make it tough for the other batters to make it to the playing XI in LSG.
The likes of Deepak Hooda and Ayush Badoni who have done well so far for the team might have to suffer. The team is unlikely to tinker with Nicholas Pooran and Marcus Stoinis’ roles.
As for Rahul, he is gearing up for the three-match ODI series against South Africa starting on December 17 and has been named the skipper of the side.
He is set to take up the middle-order slot, like he did in the World Cup, in this series as well. But the major shift in his career would be to take up the gloves in Tests and bat at five or six, which he might do in the two-match Test series against South Africa starting from December 26.
Also, the major question will be what happens when Rishabh Pant gets fit and returns to the Test team, as he was India’s top man at the job before meeting with the near-fatal accident.