KL Rahul likely to miss remainder of IPL, doubtful for WTC Final

KL Rahul, who limped off the ground, during Lucknow Super Giants’ defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday is expected to miss the remainder of the Indian Premier League. While exact details on the nature of his injury is yet to be shared by the franchise or the BCCI, it is understood that the opener will fly to Mumbai to undergo scans and then will head to the National Cricket Academy for rehabilitation.

As things stand, Rahul’s participation in the World Test Championship final – where he was being prepped to play as a wicket-keeper – is also in serious doubt. A clear picture on his availability is expected only after he undergoes tests in Mumbai, but according to those in the know, Rahul will at least need a month’s time to fully recover. With the WTC final against Australia slated for June 7, and the team set to depart on May 29, the 31-year-old is racing against time to be fit for the showpiece event.

While the selectors have already announced a 15-member squad for the WTC final, changes to it seem inevitable with another round of meeting expected in the coming days. Apart from Rahul, his teammate at Lucknow, Jaydev Unadkat has also suffered an injury in his left-shoulder in a net session on Sunday. The bowler is understood to have had a nasty fall after his foot got tangled in one of the ropes that was tied to the practice nets. It is reliably learnt that the left-arm pacer would need 6-7 weeks time to recover, which again makes him doubtful for the final.

Other than the duo, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur – both part of Kolkata Knight Riders and part of the WTC final squad – are also nursing injuries. The duo is however still part of the Knight Riders’ set-up with the BCCI’s medical team keeping a close tab on their recovery. It is understood that the duo would be available for selection soon and there is no big concern about their availability for the final to be played at the Oval.

The injury to Rahul would be a big concern for the team management who were banking on him to bat in the middle-order. Though he was dropped from the XI for the last two Tests against Australia owing to poor run of form, with Shubman Gill taking his spot at the top, injuries to Shreyas Iyer had made an opening for Rahul in the middle-order. Although the selectors have recalled the experienced Ajinkya Rahane for the WTC final, India will now have to seek reinforcement in the middle-order. With the middle-order being on shaky grounds and KS Bharat not looking comfortable with the bat, India were planning to handover the wicket-keeping gloves to Rahul, which would have strengthened the batting and allowed them to bat deep till No 9.

It is understood that the selectors will name the replacements before May 21 as the first set of players are set to leave for London on May 23. In that case, the injured players have to clear the fitness test by May 20 to be available for selection. With no other reserve wicket-keeper in the squad, the selectors may be forced to go back to Ishan Kishan in case Rahul doesn’t recover. The southpaw was part of India’s squad for the series against Australia, and with no other keeper waiting in the wings, Kishan is expected to join the team.

If Unadkat doesn’t recover, then the selectors are likely to consider Avesh Khan or Umran Malik.

Even before the IPL began, the BCCI and the team management were concerned about the workload of its key players. Half way through the IPL, the other notable Indian players to have picked up injuries also include Deepak Chahar and Washington Sundar. Incidentally, with exception to Unadkat, all have picked internal injuries. With a few more weeks of the IPL left, the team management and the selectors are already fretting about the workload of the rest as any more injuries could jeopardise their plans for the WTC final.

Apart from the 15-member squad, it is understood that the BCCI is pondering whether to send the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Sarfraz Khan as reserves.

India are already without Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah for the WTC final.

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