KL Rahul: The best bet to fill in Dravid’s shoes?
In the first T20 international of the 2018 India tour of England, KL Rahul scored a prolific century star-studded with ten (10) boundaries and five (5) beautifully placed sixes. The second ball he faced on the tour, he went for it and the ball sailed away over the cover fence.
It was a delight to watch him start with a bang and carry on the ominous form he was in during the IPL. India cruised to victory thanks to the onslaught Rahul launched, as it rained sixes in almost every direction of the ground.
He is more than just a white ball player
Rahul has shown maturity at every stage when he was given an opportunity. The three-day match at Chelmsford came as a much-needed chance for him to present his case for the longer version of the game. Rahul didn’t miss the opportunity and crafted a patient knock of 58 runs off 90 balls. India were in a spot of bother at 147/5 when Kohli fell to Walter. There was a danger looming that India may get wrapped up in a day’s play.
Rahul, however, had other plans. He played a classy innings where we saw a mix of aggression and calmness. He played his shots when it was required and the ball was there to be hit and added 114 crucial runs for the sixth wicket in partnership with Dinesh Karthik and steadied the ship for India. The temperament he showed while on the crease gave everyone hope that India still can reach a respectable score on the Day 1 of three-day match.
The Test cap wasn’t a fluke
Rahul made his debut against Australia at the MCG, which wasn’t a match to remember for him. The selectors kept their faith in Rahul and he answered the call with a charismatic display of batting at the Sydney cricket ground. Playing at his usual opening spot, he scored a century and proved his worth for the longer version of the game. He carried on his good form in the test matches during the away tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies and became an inseparable cog in the scheme of Indian batting.
Rahul has played 24 test matches, since his debut 4 years ago with an average of 40.8 and a highest score of 199 against England on a testing wicket at the Chepauk.
Intensified top order; where does he fit?
The top order of the Indian team is really heavy and other brilliant contenders are there for a space in the top three. Murali Vijay has always been the first choice and the selectors have shown their faith in Dhawan to open the innings. Pujara and Rahane are always there to take the number three spot. In such a scenario it becomes all the more important for Rahul to keep a check on his nerves early in the innings and remove the tag of ‘all-or-nothing’ player once and for all.
Apart from a gifted batting technique like his mentor Rahul Dravid, he has a temperament to suit Test cricket; not to forget that he can also always play a role of a wicket-keeper/batsman. He has the aggression, dogged resilience and grit required to take the team out, when they are in trouble.
With age on his side, Rahul has it in him to become a permanent in the test ranks of Indian cricket team. He just has to keep his head down and bat like there is no tomorrow.