Last Chance for KL Rahul?
It has been four years since that patient maiden test 100 from KL Rahul in the 4th test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy in Sydney, Australia. The unflappable knock provided him with the perfect kickstart to his red ball career.
Four years down the lane, he is still fighting for his place in the side and if he doesn’t perform to his potential, the same tour, which gave him the start, could put an end to his career.
KL Rahul, the elegant right-hand batsman from Karnataka, has always been in the squad since the last Australian tour. His grand ODI and T20I debuts in Zimbabwe along with a few good IPL seasons helped him retain his place in the white ball format.
He is one among the only few players today who is part of the squad in all the three formats. However, he does not regularly feature even in one. Rahul has blown hot and cold throughout his international stint for the national team. One on hand, he produces magical knocks like his T20I hundred in Florida, USA against the West Indies and on the other hand he gets out playing loose shots against the same opposition in home conditions where all his other teammates feasted on the inexperienced Windies bowling attack.
KL Rahul’s poor run at the recently concluded home series against the West Indies meant the axe would fall on his fellow Karnataka teammate Mayank Agarwal, who was in the side after scoring heavily for Karnataka and India A team.
With Rahul failing, the selectors drafted Murali Vijay back into the squad which would travel Australia as the other two openers in KL Rahul and Prithvi Shaw had little experience combined.
Things got worse for Rahul when he got out playing a loose shot against an inexperienced Cricket Australia (CA) XI bowling side in India’s only warm-up game this Australian summer. Batting Coach Sanjay Bangar was disappointed with Rahul’s shot, which was evident in his talks when he came to address the media at the end of the first day’s play.
"He (Rahul) has been looking in good shape, including today. It is just that he is finding new ways to get out. Even today, the ball was quite afar when he played it away from his body and lost his wicket. But what we are reading he is playing the ball well, and he is one hit away (from form),” quoted Bangar after the day's play.
"We know his ability, and if he converts that to performances, then it is important for the team. He is not a young player anymore, and he is on his second tour here. He has played 30 Tests, and he has a responsibility. We expect him to play with that responsibility and play his role for the team," the batting coach said.
Bangar even said that the team management hadn’t finalized on the opening spot. "There are certain spots to be taken still. We are looking at the opening slot as well as the number six slot. Those are the positions we are still looking at, we have not decided yet,” added Bangar.
With Shaw getting ruled out from the first test due to an ankle injury on the 3rd day of the warm-up game, It is now a certainty that KL Rahul and Murali Vijay would be starting for India in the first test on the 6th of December at the Adelaide Oval.
In conclusion, it is an excellent opportunity for Rahul to re-establish himself as a regular test opener for India, and the fans would be hoping that he produces good knocks just like he did in his previous tour down under.