‘I don’t know…’: India batting coach gives an update on KL Rahul’s fitness

The recurring injury woes of Indian cricketer KL Rahul have been a persistent theme within the cricketing fraternity, as he has faced a series of setbacks that keep him off the field. Last year’s injury during the Indian Premier League (IPL) marked the beginning of a challenging phase for the opening batsman, who made his way back into international cricket only during the Asia Cup that preceded the World Cup. His struggle with fitness was renewed when he sustained another injury during the first Test of the current series against England, causing him to miss the second Test.

Anticipation was high for Rahul’s return for the third Test, with earlier reports expecting his recuperation would be swift enough to see him back in action. However, in a twist to developments, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that he was 90% fit and projected him to be ready for the fourth Test. Despite these optimistic projections, the esteemed batsman has not recovered sufficiently from his injury and has been deemed unavailable for the fourth Test in Ranchi. This unfortunate turn of events has also placed his participation in the final Test at Dharamsala in jeopardy, fueling further speculation around his fitness levels.

In light of these uncertainties, India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour offered some clarity about Rahul’s current state. Rathour dismissed questions about Rahul’s specific fitness percentages, emphasizing a binary perspective where a player is either deemed fit or unfit. “As of now, he is unfit,” stated Rathour, emphasizing that the BCCI’s medical team possesses more detailed insights regarding Rahul’s injury. These comments were made on the eve of the consequential fourth Test between India and England.

The conversation naturally veered towards the pitch at JSCA International Stadium Complex, which Rathour described as a ‘typical Indian wicket,’ explaining that it would likely favor the spin bowlers. Rathour pointed out that there are always discussions on pitch conditions when matches are held in India, highlighting that cracks were visible on the pitch, an aspect synonymous with Indian wickets. Although predicting the precise behavior of the pitch remains uncertain, with questions about the degree of turn it will offer left answered only by the unfolding of the match itself.

The batting coach took a moment to address the decision to rest Jasprit Bumrah, a crucial component of the Indian bowling attack. Acknowledging the heavy heart with which the decision was made, Rathour underlined the necessity of managing player workloads, particularly in light of the hectic cricketing schedule. He praised Bumrah’s commitment and outstanding performance in the series thus far, stating, “We love to see Bumrah play every match. But it is not advisable. The kind of workload, schedule we have, everybody felt it’s better to give him a break.”

This Test series has been replete with strategic adjustments for the Indian team. With not just Rahul’s but also Mohammed Shami’s recent injury leading to speculation on possible replacements in the GT squad for the IPL 2024. As attention shifts towards the pitch in Ranchi for the upcoming 4th Test between India and England, all eyes are not only on the 22 yards of turf that will decide the fates of both teams but also on the evolving composition of the Indian side as it continues to grapple with the twin challenges of form and fitness among its key players.

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