KL Rahul has scored test hundreds as an opener in Australia, England, and South Africa; he has played both as an opener and a middle-order batsman in One-Day Internationals and provides an efficient wicketkeeping option. In short, he has done everything that’s asked of him. To top all of that, he was also the all-format vice-captain of the Indian team till a few months back. In spite of all these, why is his spot questioned more often than not in the Indian side? Let us analyze this question in detail in this blog.
The Consistency Battle
To get a better context of this blog, let’s review his Test and ODI stats. In 79 test innings, he has scored 13 fifties and 7 hundred.
Now here’s an observation: as a cricket fan, I cannot remember KL Rahul going through a series with stamping authority. Here are a few stats to back that up.
Look through the follow-up innings to each of the test hundreds, there is only one fifty
At no point in his 8-year career has he been the leader of the batting lineup, something his contemporaries like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Shikhar Dhawan have achieved on multiple occasions. In a country like India, where most batters like to bat at the top, it is imperative to score loads of MATCH-WINNING runs to become the first-choice all-format player.
KL Rahul: Piece of a Middle-Order Puzzle
Let’s move on to the T20 format. KL Rahul received heavy backlash for his conservative approach in the T20 World Cup. It was evident even in the semi-final, where KL Rahul struggled to find the right approach and was almost caught up in two minds. He has been a prolific run scorer in the IPL, but there too, he hasn’t been at his FEARLESS best.
Across the 49 ODI innings, two consecutive 50+ have been scored only thrice
His criticism is strongly based on his inability to set the game up for the middle-order batsman, which brings me to my next point. Since his move down to the middle order in the ODI set-up, he has been an absolute match-winner. He has reacted to the situation and modeled his game accordingly.
Scoring 878 runs in 23 innings at an average of 48.78, he has proved his worth in India’s middle muddle
We have seen him play quick-fire fifties coming later in the innings and play out the middle overs sensibly in case the top 3 fail to score. KL Rahul is outstanding at adapting to situations, given that the situation is set up for him. As an opener, he has struggled to do the latter in the shorter formats and, in recent times, mastered the former.
The Future Prospects
With the likes of Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Prithvi Shaw, and Ruturaj Gaikwad knocking on the door of the Indian team, it would be a challenge for KL Rahul to retain his spot at the top in T20Is.
The move down to the middle order makes sense in the shortest format too. I hope they experiment with it before pushing KL into the shadows. KL Rahul is the epitome of a team player. It would be a shame to see someone as talented as him not being used up to his full potential. It’s not the first time questions have been raised about KL Rahul, and neither is it the first time he is out to prove his critics wrong and shows us a completely new facet of his game.
Your View Matters
What do you think about KL Rahul’s spot in the Indian team? Should he continue to open in all formats or shouldn’t be on the team? We are all ears. Do share your view in the comments section, or leave us a comment on our Twitter handle @CricBloggers.