Asia Cup 2022: Indian vice-captain KL Rahul says team looking forward to Sunday’s clash
KL Rahul Image Credit: ANI

Johannesburg: India's captain for the ODI series against South Africa, KL Rahul stated that the 26-year-old explosive batter Rinku Singh will most likely make his ODI debut in the three-match ODI series against South Africa.

The series will begin on Sunday with the opening match slated to be played at Johannesburg's New Wanderers Stadium. Rinku was the second-highest run-scorer in the recently concluded T20I series, with 82 runs in two matches as the series finished 1-1.

Rahul was asked if Rinku might bat at No.6 in the ODIs against South Africa and India's captain lauded the explosive batter, stating that Rinku has shown skills very well in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The wicketkeeper-batter Rahul also discussed Rinku's prospects of winning his first ODI cap in the series following a spectacular performance in the two T20I series in which he scored 187 runs in 109 balls across six innings with a fifty. Rahul praised Rinku's temperament and stated that he will undoubtedly be given a shot in the ODI series against the Proteas.

"He has shown what a good player he is. 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 has performed well across formats in domestic cricket, so yes he will get his opportunity," Rahul said in a pre-match press conference.

India managed to draw the T20I series under the captaincy of Suryakumar Yadav 1-1 after the first T20I was washed out due to rain. For the ODI series happening from December 17 to 21, India will witness the return of experienced KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer. But mainstays like regular skipper Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah are not in the team.

'Will continue keeping wickets'

Rahul also discussed his batting position in ODIs, stating that he will continue to serve as a wicketkeeper while batting in the middle order.

"I will be doing wicket-keeping & batting in the middle order in this ODI series. I am happy to take any role in the Test series that the captain, the coach and the management want. Of course, even in T20, I want to play for my country," Rahul said.

Ahead of the first ODI against the Proteas, Rahul said that Sanju Samson would bat in the middle order. Samson has made it into the ODI team after a long wait, but his spot in the starting 11 for the opening game remains doubtful.

"Sanju will bat in the middle order. That is the role he has played whenever he has played ODI cricket. 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," he said.

Good opportunity for young players

When asked about the thought of playing ODIs again after a taxing World Cup campaign with players and coaches moving in and out, Rahul acknowledged to feeling odd.

"Yeah, it does feel a bit strange, but that's how the game is going. The schedule is such that not every player can be available for every format. Unfortunately, the coach also has a bigger responsibility. The Test series is obviously the focus, but having said that, it gives some of us players a good opportunity to take up the extra responsibility and play our best cricket and still win the game," he added.

"Nothing changes for us. Every time we represent the country, we want to play well and win. The guys here are all very deserving of their call-up to the national team. They've all performed really well and I trust each of them. The selectors have shown faith and given them this opportunity. So we trust all of them to do the job and compete really hard here and win the series," Rahul stated.

India's squad for 3 ODIs
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sai Sudharsan, Tilak Varma, Rajat Patidar, Rinku Singh, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (C) (Wk), Sanju Samson (Wk), Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mukesh Kumar, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh and Akash Deep.