KL Rahul’s knock puts Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in an uncomfortable position
KL Rahul scored a composed century on Tuesday (July 20) against Select County XI in the 3-day warm-up fixture. The assured display helped the Punjab Kings skipper make a strong case for himself ahead of India’s five-match Test series against England, which is due to start on August 4.
There are two ways to look at the situation regarding Team India’s opening combination after KL Rahul’s century and Shubman Gill’s injury.
#1 This is the way to go
For a man who has been a bench-warmer on the last couple of tours, KL Rahul’s ton gives his chances of making the final XI a huge boost. Those who believe in the Karnataka batsman’s ability will feel this is enough to get a shot at at least two Tests out of five.
#2 KL Rahul has got to continue in the same vein
Just one strong display is simply not enough. To cement a slot in the playing XI as a middle-order bat, KL Rahul must offer more consistency against more talented opposition. It is the only way he can be looked at as a reliable batsman. His wicket-keeping skills just add to his repertoire.
Now that both sides of the argument are looked at, there is an inclination to lean towards the latter. One of our expert columnists had earlier written about the pressing need to give Rahul a shot. Otherwise, the talented Karnataka batsman is pretty much on a luxury tour sans some quality cricket.
With this knock, the hope is that he continues to make use of most of the opportunities that come his way.
Is this enough for KL Rahul to break into the playing XI?
Of the 2006 runs he has scored in Tests, 532 have come against England at an average of 38.00. His last Test was in 2019 against the West Indies when India blanked the hosts 2-0.
Despite his team’s triumph in the Caribbean, KL Rahul had an underwhelming outing, registering scores of 13 and 6.
The second innings score all but confirmed the fact that the Punjab Kings skipper would be ousted as he scratched around for 63 balls before walking back to the pavilion.
Recent reports suggest Rahul is being looked at as a middle-order batsman. Whether that comes at the cost of Ajinkya Rahane being benched or India making room for a specialist batsman remains to be seen.
At No.3, KL Rahul has played just five innings for India, scoring 88 runs (with one 50 to his name). He is certainly better as an opener (1915 runs from 15 innings). Recent form, apart from the century on Tuesday, is on KL Rahul’s side as well.
Before being ruled out of IPL 2021 with acute appendicitis, he blitzed 331 runs from seven matches at an average of 66.20.
Prior to that, he marked his return to the national side in their limited-overs series against England with a ton and a fifty. His knock certainly puts Rahane and perhaps Cheteshwar Pujara in an uncomfortable position.
To be honest, there are no assured slots in the five Tests, but maybe a few more daddy hundreds, if he does get a go, will surely help KL Rahul break into the side.