KL Rahul and the much needed 'Koffee Kick'
Just a year ago, KL Rahul was dropped from the Test team in Australia for the Boxing Day Test match. He was replaced by Mayank Agarwal who performed exceptionally and cemented his spot as a Test opener.
Shortly after the drop, KL Rahul sat on the bench and watched his side create history Down Under as they sealed the series 1-2. Immediately after the series finished, an episode of a TV show called Koffee with Karan, hosted by Bollywood director, Karan Johar, aired and took many people by suprise.
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KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya appeared on the show as guests, (it was shot before the Australia tour but released after) and due to inappropriate comments by the pair, the show was pulled off television and all websites after the first airing. A lot of the discussion on the show was deemed improper and the feminists in particular were raging over the sexist and patriarchal comments.
Both Rahul and Pandya were immediately dropped from the Indian team and although there was no official ban, their antics had let a lot of people down and so both players had to suffer the consequences. Many kids look up to cricketers, so it wasn't pleasing to see some of the comments made such as those on a woman's body or the fact that they use their roommate's room for sexual activity.
Cricketers are role models and thus should not indulge in nonsensical talk. But if you look at it from another angle, they are just human beings and can make mistakes. The important facet of this whole episode is how Pandya and in particular Rahul took this as a learning curve and came back to the team as stronger cricketers.
Also read: KL Rahul opens up on the controversies and says Rahul Dravid helped him get back on track
Fast forward the clock to present day, and KL Rahul is now a player that India cannot afford to drop in the limited overs format. He can open the batting, bat in the middle order, bat as a finisher, play as a wicket-keeper, and as we saw in the 5th T20I against New Zealand, he can also captain the side. He is in prime form currently, striking the ball beautifully and making sure he makes the most of his starts, something which he was failing to do earlier on in his career. His keeping has been robust as well and he looks comfortable behind the stumps to both pacers and spinners.
Rahul has not cemented his place in the Test team yet, but he has shown before that he has the technique for it. He just needs to work on his concentration and shot selection against the red ball. He is mentally tougher now and that will help him in the five-day game where lapses in concentration are fatal. His talent was never questioned, the six over extra-cover in the 5th T20 accentuated his skill as a batsman and that ensured that India’s future is in safe hands.
After the whole Koffee with Karan episode, Rahul has come out a more mature and polished cricketer, who looks mentally and physically stronger. Controversies can break people, but Rahul has proven that if you accept your mistake and fight through the lows you will be rewarded with plenty of highs in the future. If you don’t make mistakes you are not human, but it is also important to accept and improve on your faults.
The multi-faceted player that he is, Rahul will always find a spot in the Indian limited overs team. He just needs to continue to work hard and ensure he doesn’t take anything for granted. This will also help him find a place in the Test side, sooner rather than later.