With India Test wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha struggling with a thumb injury, opener Lokesh Rahul said he is ready to take on the role of the glovesman in the one-off Test against Afghanistan if the team demands.
Saha remains unsure of his participation in the Test starting from June 14 in Bengaluru because of the injury he suffered in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Qualifier 2 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on May 25.
“I am always open to the challenge of dual responsibility. I have been training hard and will take up the role if the team demands the same,” Rahul, who is also a wicketkeeper, told IANS.
Rahul also kept wickets in the IPL and did some good work behind the stumps. Apart from keeping, he finished as the third highest scorer in the tournament with 659 runs at an average of 54.91, scoring six fifties in 14 innings.
When quizzed about the new role in the cash-rich league, Rahul said: “This wasn’t the first time that I took on a dual responsibility. I knew it will be hard on the body, as I don’t keep regularly through the year but that’s what you do seeing the demand of the team.”
“I took it up as a challenge and worked on keeping. It’s a team sport and you have to be ready to take up the role that the team wants,” the 26-year-old added.
For the one-off Test, The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) announced a spin-heavy 16-member squad.
The squad comprises five spinners in Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan and left-arm spinner Hamza Kotak, who incidentally emerged as the leading wicket-taker in the recently concluded first-class competition.
Rashid and Mujeeb also had fruitful campaigns in the IPL playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab respectively.
Commenting on his strategy, the right-hand batsman said: “Apart from IPL sensations Rashid and young Mujeeb ur Rahman, the other two spinners are chinaman Zahir Khan and left-arm orthodox Amir Hamza Hotak are the ones to watch out for.”
“Rashid and Mujeeb have made the entire world sit up and take notice of their talent in the shortest format, but I feel the duo is set to face a different battle in the test format. Strategy will be to work on our strengths as a team and give our best,” the Red Bull athlete added.
Rashid picked up 21 wickets in 17 matches and was also the architect behind SRH’s road to the final which they lost to eventual champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
Mujeeb too shone well with the ball, grabbing 14 wickets in 11 matches before a hand injury he sustained in a game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) ruled him out of the remaining matches.
(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at gaurav. email@example.com)
By Gaurav Sharma