KL Rahul unlikely to return for final Test

K L Rahul
K L Rahul became unavailable after the series-opener in Hyderabad. File photo: AFP/Noah Seelam

New Delhi: Senior Indian batter K L Rahul is unlikely to feature in the fifth and final Test against England at Dharamsala as he continues to feel sore in his right quadriceps.

Rahul became unavailable after the series-opener in Hyderabad in January but as per the Board of Control for Cricket in India, he was 90 per cent fit before the third Test in Rajkot earlier this month.

Rahul has now travelled to London to get an expert opinion on his injury and with the series in the bag, the Indian team management will not take the risk of playing him in the Dharamsala Test beginning March 7.

He needs to be fully fit before the IPL where he will lead Lucknow Super Giants and is expected to bat in the middle order to bolster his chances of making the India squad for the T20 World Cup in the USA and the Caribbean.

"It is more to get an expert opinion (travel to London). He experiences a bit of pain (right quadriceps) while batting. It is to ensure that he recovers fully as he is a player that team needs long term.

"There is so much competition coming his way -- IPL, he could also be in the T20 World Cup mix. Then we have some important Test series against New Zealand, and Australia later in the year. So, it is better to give him time to recover properly than rushing him," said an IPL source.

It is the same quadriceps injury that had sidelined Rahul for almost four months last year.

Having got injured during the IPL, Rahul returned to action with the Asia Cup in September and made instant impact. In the more recent Test tour of South Africa, Rahul was the only centurion from India in the drawn series.

His absence from the final Test means Rajat Patidar will remain with the squad but the MP batter can't be sure of his place in the playing eleven, having aggregated only 63 runs in six innings.

There is a possibility that Patidar will make away for Devdutt Padikkal.

India's premier pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested for the Ranchi Test, is expected to lead the attack at the HPCA Stadium. The series is sealed but every Test match offers crucial World Test Championship points and Bumrah can play a big part in the cooler climes of Dharamsala.

India are second in the standings with five wins, two losses and a draw. New Zealand lead the table with a winning percentage of 75 but they have only played four Tests.

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