While teams across the globe would go to any lengths to acquire a talent like KL Rahul, the Indian team seems more than satisfied to waste his talent. In a short span of time, Rahul has emerged as not just an eye-pleasing batsman, but a sheer match winner with his flexible style of batting. That was evident by how quickly he broke into the ICC Rankings for the top batsmen, with his stupendous performances.
However, it has been profusely disheartening to see how Rahul has been treated by the men who matter in the Indian dressing room.
Game after game, despite pathetic displays by the middle order, there seems to be a clear reluctance to try out Rahul. The likes of Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav have by no means justified their slots, and that remains a big worry for the team.
The second T20I at Guwahati was yet another instance of India completely messing it up by not picking up Rahul. On a track that was difficult for stroke play, India were reduced to a shambolic state before Hardik Pandya got the side to at least a respectable total. Manish Pandey disappointed yet again, as he was nicked off by the in-form Jason Behrendorff. Kedar Jadhav too did his chances no good by playing a rash shot against a googly bowled by Adam Zampa.
The question thus remains, are India willing to test KL Rahul for the decider at Hyderabad? Mind you, in his brief T20I career, Rahul already has a swashbuckling ton to his name and a match winning half century earlier this year.
Thereby, below we analyze the three likely reasons why KL Rahul must be backed for the third T20I.
- Manish Pandey isn’t a regular number 4:
When he bats for his IPL franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders, Pandey usually bats at 3. That position is perfect for him, as he has the time to get his eye in and set a solid base for himself. However, in this current Indian setup, with Virat Kohli batting at 3, Pandey has to be accommodated at 4. This isn’t Pandey’s regular position, and thereby there is a clear change in his style of play. At 4, Pandey might not get enough time to get himself in and thus might end up playing a game alien to his usual self. This is where Rahul can come in, as he is used to batting at 4 in the IPL. Not to discount the fact that he also has a hundred at the said position for India.
- KL Rahul is an adaptable batsman:
One can realise that KL Rahul is an extremely versatile batsman by the fact that not too long ago, Rahul scored nearly 50% of the team’s score in a T20I against England on a real treacherous track. Rahul’s masterclass of 71 which came from 47 deliveries was the difference between India and England earlier in January this year when the two teams squared off at Nagpur. On a deck where stroke play was a task too cumbersome, Rahul seemed to bat in a class of his own. That knock was enough to portray that difficult pitches didn’t both the Karnataka batsman to a great extent. At Hyderabad, even if India are presented with a track which is somewhat similar to the one at Guwahati, Rahul’s presence will be more than handy.
- KL Rahul hasn’t done anything to be dropped:
Well, let’s face and address the issue right here itself. You don’t drop a batsman who averages more than 50 in a particular format! Apart from the plain numbers being at his side, has Rahul done anything wrong for him to be overlooked? Surely not. Against England in the three-match T20I series at home earlier this year, he looked in great touch and was getting off to starts in every game. In Sri Lanka as well in the one-off game, he got off to 24 before eventually being dismissed. Thereby the case of dropping him from the playing XI in the first place was quite strange itself. To sum it up, if India are to do well at Hyderabad, Rahul must make it to the scheme of things.