Former Indian opener Wasim Jaffer recently opined that KL Rahul should have been retained in the Test team in New Zealand, considering his outstanding form in the preceding limited-overs matches. He also added that the Karnataka opener is likely to serve Indian cricket for a long time.
Wasim Jaffer shared his views on the current set of Indian Test openers, including KL Rahul, in a freewheeling chat with Aakash Chopra on the latter's YouTube channel.
Aakash Chopra asked Wasim Jaffer on how he saw KL Rahul as a future Test opener considering that the latter had scored 3 centuries, one each in Australia, England, and West Indies, but hasn't been getting opportunities in Test cricket despite the technique, temperament, and talent he possesses.
The former Mumbai opener responded that KL Rahul should have been retained by the selectors for the Test matches in New Zealand and also labelled the latter as his favourite batsman after Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
"He is a first-class player, without a doubt. He is my favourite after Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. I feel that selectors should have stuck with KL Rahul for the New Zealand Test matches."
Wasim Jaffer added that KL Rahul's form in the preceding limited-overs series should have been given more weightage than his Test performances in the past while selecting the Indian team for the longer version of the game in New Zealand.
"The form he was carrying, when somebody is playing with that form in ODI and T20 cricket, then you need to back him again. Don't look at what he has done one and a half year back. I feel he should have been given the third opener's spot in the Test matches in New Zealand."
Jaffer opined that KL Rahul would serve Indian cricket for a long time considering the qualities he possesses.
"He has that game, he is a three format player. And I feel he is going to knock around as the third opener and will put pressure on the other openers. Mujhe lagta hai ki woh lambi race ka ghoda hai (I feel he is one for the long haul)."
Aakash Chopra also agreed with Jaffer's view that KL Rahul should have been a part of the Test team in New Zealand.
"I concur with you that in New Zealand he should have played Test match cricket. He was already there, was in good form and was making runs but he was not picked in the Test team."
Wasim Jaffer on KL Rahul's batting position being tinkered around with
Aakash Chopra also queried Wasim Jaffer if KL Rahul is being being given a fair deal as he has been made to bat down the order just because he can, despite his best position still at the top.
Wasim Jaffer admitted that KL Rahul's batting position has been tinkered around with. The Karnataka batsman started in the middle order at the World Cup and was then made to open after Shikhar Dhawan's injury, followed by another move down the order after the prestigious tournament.
"I feel that he has been played around a little bit, without a doubt. In the World Cup he started at No.4, then he was made to open when Shikhar got injured and then when he came back he was again made to play at No.4 or No.5 against Australia."
Jaffer added that although the KXIP captain has not got a permanent slot in the batting order, he has the ability to adjust his game to the demands of the situation.
"He has been played around but the good thing is that he fits himself in all the positions, he has got that game. He fits into IPL, he has scored 500-600 runs there. He has a good technique, he can succeed in Test cricket, ODI cricket without a doubt. He can fit into the middle portion in Tests and T20Is as well."
Wasim Jaffer signed off by stating that KL Rahul should be given another chance in Test match cricket.
"I feel he needs to be given a longer rope. I feel when he should have been dropped, they didn't do that and kept playing him and now when he is doing well and should have been played, they have dropped him. I feel he needs to be given one more chance in Test cricket."
KL Rahul has played 36 Test matches for India, scoring 2006 runs at an average of 34.58. He has been more consistent in the limited-overs format of the game. While he has scored 1239 runs in ODI cricket at an average of 47.65, his 1461 runs in T20Is have come at an average of 45.65 and an impressive strike rate of 146.10.