Bengaluru/Rajkot: KL Rahul's stupendous white ball form makes him a firm favourite to get his place back in the red ball team even as selectors fret on all-rounder Hardik Pandya's fitness before picking ODI and Test squads for the New Zealand tour here on Sunday. Rahul has been India's most consistent player in T20 and ODIs but he lost his place in the Test squad after tour of Australia.
But as skipper Virat Kohli said that it's difficult to leave a player like Rahul from any squad, he has better chance than fit-again Prithvi Shaw or Subman Gill who was reserve Test opener during home series last season.
The other change in Test squad could be fast-rising Navdeep Saini going as an extra pacer rather than Kuldeep Yadav as the third spinner since only one among Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja will make the playing XI.
Similarly, Indian team management is eagerly waiting for Hardik to become "bowling fit" for white ball matches post back surgery and will be automatic choice for ODIs if fit.
He had failed the mandatory "bowling workload test" after which his personal trainer S Rajnikanth advised him to pull out of India A's shadow tour.
In case, Hardik can't make it, selectors might either look at hitting prowess of Suryakumar Yadav since the ODIs in the Kiwiland will be an extension of T20s in World Cup year.
There is also a possibility that Ajinkya Rahane will be considered due to his better technique compared to Kedar Jadhav who is slowly falling off in pecking order.
"Kedar is certainly not going to play 2023 World Cup and doesn't even bowl now. Since he is not in T20, no point in carrying him to New Zealand. Possibly Surya or Rahane should be tried," a BCCI source privy to selection matters told PTI.
Great to be compared with someone like Dravid, says Rahul
Gradually learning to fit into multiple roles as per team's requirement, KL Rahul has drawn comparisons with the legendary Rahul Dravid and the young batsman says it's an honour.Like Rahul Dravid, he has played in the middle-order and has kept wickets too.
A traditional opener, Rahul came in at number five in Rajkot and blazed his way to 52-ball 80 to propel India to competitive 340 for six on a flat track at the SCA Stadium here. He then kept wickets as regular wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant was concussed.
Rahul had also kept wickets in the lung-opener at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and did a decent job in both the games.
"It's great to be compared with someone like him. I had this comparison for a long time when growing up and playing as well. The names ? he's Rahul Dravid and I'm Rahul ? so the comparisons always been there and he's someone I have spent a lot of time with talking about cricket, talking about batting and he's coming from the same state as well (Karnataka)".
He said Dravid is open to speaking to him on anything about cricket.
"I have the opportunity to go to him or give him a call and talk to him about batting or anything about cricket. So he's been more than welcome," Rahul signed off.
Dravid had kept wickets in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa....