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KL Rahul puts up his name for ODI spot

Aditya Joshi
ANALYST
News
983   //    01 Jun 2018, 18:14 IST

ZIMBABWE-CRICKET
Enroute to his maiden ODI hundred against Zimbabwe

What's the story?

With a career-best IPL season by a margin, India's stylish opener KL Rahul once again established his fine white-ball credentials and is now vying for a spot in India's ODI setup.

With 659 runs in 14 innings, including a blistering 14 ball fifty against the Delhi Daredevils in Kings XI Punjab's opening encounter, Rahul has the confidence regained to back himself for a return to the ODI side, especially with the World Cup approaching next year. He reckons that he can be the answer to India's frustratingly persistent number 4 problem.

In case you didn't know...

Lokesh Rahul is not only the solitary Indian to have scored a century on ODI debut, but also the first player to score a T20I century batting in at number four or lower. He also holds the record for completing the century trifecta of all the formats in international cricket in the least number of innings, 20. He clearly has a penchant for scoring the big runs when he gets going.

The heart of the matter

Rahul has been tried in India's middle order before. In India's triumphant tour of Sri Lanka last year, he was tried at number 3, 4 and 5 and scored 1, 17 and 7 before being dropped from the side. His struggles might be attributed to batting outside his preferred zone at the top of the order where he can make use of the swift new ball and field restrictions.

"My childhood dream is to play the World Cup and if the team management wants me to bat No 4, I am ready to do it because nothing is bigger than playing for India. I hope to continue with my recent form in ODIs too," Rahul told the Times of India on the sidelines of an event in Chandigarh.

"Right now my aim is to score runs for my country and it doesn't matter if it is coming as an opener or in the middle order. As long as I am performing these things don't matter but the final decision is taken by the team management. If they want me to bat at No 4, then I am up for the challenge," said Rahul, brimming with hope and a sense of purpose.

What's next?

Although, given his experience now in international cricket and the fact that he has learned how to bat out tough conditions show that he is not a mere stroke-maker anymore. In the tests against Australia last year, he battled a dodgy pitch and a raging Lyon to score a brilliant 90 in the second Test at Bengaluru. Since the 2015 World Cup, 10 players have been tried at the number 4 position, without any considerable success.

Given the world cup is only a year away from now, Rahul would look to capitalize on the Test tour to present a case for his inclusion. His steady head, calm temperament, and ability to switch gears at will might give him an edge ahead of the other likely candidates namely Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey and even Dinesh Karthik.

Which Indian player will answer India's number four conundrum? Let us know in the comments below.

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Aditya Joshi
ANALYST
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