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KL Rahul on alert for wicket-keeping duty for warm-up tie

Durham, July 16 (IANS) India may have to summon batsman KL Rahul for wicket-keeping duties in a three-day warm-up match against a County XI, beginning here on July 20, if Rishabh Pant doesn’t return negative RT-PCR tests over the next couple of days and isn’t fit to play.

Pant’s back-up Wriddhiman Saha will also not be available as he is in isolation until July 24 after he came in contact with training assistant Dayanand Garani, who is the other team member to test positive.

The dilemma has arisen after the Indian team members, during their three-week break, were allowed to roam free in England as the country opened up after lockdown, but instead ended up witnessing both Pant and Garani catching Covid-19.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in a statement on Thursday, said that “Pant is being closely monitored by the BCCI medical team and is on his way to recovery” and that “he will be able to join the squad in Durham after returning two negative RT-PCR tests”.

BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla told IANS on Thursday that Pant will undergo a test after a couple of days. If he doesn’t clear the test, India may end up calling Rahul.

Rahul hasn’t played a Test since August-September, 2019 although the Karnataka player has kept wickets in limited-overs matches in recent times.

Rahul is one of the options for opening batting, but he is likely to be considered more for the middle order, and may be kept as a standby wicketkeeper also.

The 29-year-old player was forced out of the Indian Premier League 2021 and had to undergo a surgery for appendicitis. He joined the Indian team in Mumbai late before it flew out to England.

Former selector Gagan Khoda had told IANS recently that Rahul was more suited for the middle-order. “I think, he should be played in the middle-order not as opener,” he had said.

The BCCI had kept KS Bharat in the camp in Mumbai, where the Test squad was in quarantine in May, ahead of the departure to England.

Bharat was a standby for Saha, who had contracted Covid-19 during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season and had to serve quarantine. After Saha recovered, Bharat was left behind.

The Indians-County XI July 20-22 warm-up at the Riverside ground in Durham is the only warm-up for the Indian team ahead of the Test series against England beginning on August 4.

–IANS

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