Kohli confirms India to persist with Rahul as wicketkeeper
Virat Kohli backed the idea of continuing with KL Rahul as the side's wicketkeeper in a bid to prolong India's batting depth.
The Karnataka batter was chosen to don the gloves in the absence of Pant and performed his duties behind the stumps rather flawlessly throughout the series.
With India set to tour New Zealand for five T20I matches, Kohli has confirmed Rahul will be given a longer run with the gloves to assess his progress in the new role.
"It definitely allows us to play an extra batsman which strengthens our batting massively," Kohli told reporters after India defeated Australia in the series-deciding clash on Sunday.
"That is a very important factor as far as the team balance is concerned. If you look at the 2003 World Cup where Rahul [Dravid] bhai started keeping, the balance became different because you could play an extra batter and guys at the top could really play positive cricket."
Rahul's case has been helped by a prolific run with the bat that has seen him score heavily for his team.
Despite question marks over his position in the batting order, Rahul has made significant contributions to maintaining India's hegemony at home.
He bludgeoned a 52-ball 80 in the second 50-over contest against Australia, which was key to lifting India's total to a daunting 340-6.
"He is very open to playing anywhere because he is a proper batsman and can do you good in any format and any position in the game," Kohli added.
"He won't go slam-bang from ball one but he can do what he did in Rajkot just playing good cricketing shots. So I think a solid game plan and understanding of his game is helping him."
Kohli's persistence on making use of Rahul's wicketkeeping skills adds pressure on Pant, who is part of India's T20I squad.
However, Pant has been consistently slammed by critics for failing to uphold high standards with the bat and gloves.
"He [Rahul] has come into that slot and has done well, so we will have to persist with that," said Kohli.
"You can't chop and change immediately and create confusion within the group. So we are playing very well unchanged and we did the job again, two back to back wins."