For nearly a month, uncertainty has surrounded India’s wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul’s fitness, impacting his participation in the final Test against England and the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL). Rahul has been recovering from a quadricep tendon injury that kept him out of the second, third, and fourth Tests against England, following his appearance in the series opener in Hyderabad.

Rahul, now in London, is seeking medical advice about his injury. Initially expected to be ready for the third Test in Rajkot, BCCI medical personnel at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru had diagnosed him as being fit for the match. However, Rahul’s stiffness in the quadriceps persisted, and he missed subsequent Tests, despite reaching “90% match fitness.”

Even though there were optimistic statements about his availability from skipper Rohit Sharma and the Indian cricket board, Rahul remained unavailable for the Ranchi Test. His chances for the final Test depend on regaining fitness. While the IPL team Lucknow Super Giants is confident about Rahul’s availability for the tournament starting on March 22, his appearance in the final Test remains uncertain.

“For me either he [Rahul] is fit or he is not. At the moment he is not. I am not sure about the percentage or what stage he is in. Only the medical team can confirm that. As far as we are concerned, he is not available and we are focussing on the team we have,” India batting coach Vikram Rathour had said ahead of the Ranchi Test.

Rahul, who underwent surgery last year after a tendon injury during an IPL match, missed the remainder of the season and the World Test Championship final. Despite this setback, he made a strong comeback in the Asia Cup and the World Cup 2023.

With suspense around Rahul’s participation in the fifth Test, there are indications that Devdutt Padikkal might make his debut in Dharamsala, potentially replacing Rajat Patidar. India, leading the five-match Test series 3-1, is set to face England in the final match starting from March 7.

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