Johannesburg: KL Rahul is likely to don the wicketkeeper gloves for India in the first Test against South Africa that begins in Pretoria on Tuesday, despite having started only one first class match in the role in the past.
Rahul has been keeper for India numerous times in white-ball cricket, but never in the longest format of the game.
With Ishan Kishan having asked to be excused from the two-match series in South Africa, opportunity knocks for the 31-year-old Rahul, who is also an important top order batter.
“I see it as an exciting challenge and an opportunity for him to certainly do something different,” India coach Rahul Dravid told reporters on Sunday.
“We have a couple of keepers we can choose from. Rahul is certainly one. We have had this discussion with him, he is very confident, he is very keen on giving it a go.
“He has prepared well over the last five or six months. He has done a lot of keeping, even though it’s in the white-ball format. But this will be a new and exciting challenge for him.” India won on their last visit to Centurion Park in 2021, which was also the first test of the series. On that occasion there were three matches and the home side rallied to win 2-1, as India still seek a first series win in South Africa.
“For us, the big challenge is if we can put some runs on the board and score those critical extra 60-70 that gives you a great chance,” Dravid said. “ “If I go back to the last series, the one thing we did here (Pretoria) really well was we had a good first innings. We got to 327. If you can put up those kinds of scores on challenging wickets, you put yourself ahead in a Test match.”