Three years ago KL Rahul was on top of the world. He painted the field with his lavish and sometimes belligerent kicking game at white ball cricket; he had played a stellar role in India, beating Eoin Morgan’s England team in the T20 series on the latter’s own field; he had had a brilliant last 13-14 months – despite touring South Africa – as a test cricket opener; he had even joined the 199 Club in addition to joining an elite roster of hitters with 7 consecutive half-centuries in the format.
He literally couldn’t do anything wrong.
The impact of Rahul’s artistry with the bat was such that people, including notable experts, had even started to compare him to the greats of the past; a certain journalist went so far as to compare him to Sir Vivian Richards.
I know you would’ve cracked reading the last line but to be honest Rahul’s talent is such that when he sings he can sweep anyone and make them bow to his art.
Everything was going very well until the start of this unfortunate test run against England. Opening the innings in England against James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes with the Dukes in their hands is probably the reflective examination a batter can be faced with these days.
And, KL Rahul found that out the hard way as he kept nicking off or getting bowled throughout the series. He did stage his redemption with a sumptuous 149 in the final innings on albeit a flat Oval surface but that knock- as we would find out over the next few months- would merely pepper over the glaring cracks in his Test match batting.
Long story short, Rahul’s confidence started nose-diving with every failure he endured during the 2018-19 Test season and by the time he was eventually dropped in Australia, the artist had been reduced to a walking wicket.
To make matters worse, Rahul got embroiled in an off-field controversy after Hardik Pandya and he got carried away during their visit on a chat show.
He and Pandya have been criticized on social media for their comments; damn it, a former cricketer even said he would be reluctant to visit his family in the same vehicle as the duo.
To sum up the 360-degree turn in Rahul’s fortune, the same reporter who compared him to Sir Viv six months ago was now shredding him on live TV.
It’s the reality of life, isn’t it?
Either way, Hardik and KL Rahul received a brief hanging post which they put back into the setup.
Unlike his struggles against the Red Dukes in England, Rahul thrived against the white kookaburra in the 2019 World Cup. He first started out as a middle-order hitter, but Shikhar Dhawan’s unfortunate injury led him to to be promoted to his preferred position.
Rahul performed well at the World Cup and for a moment it was thought maybe he would carry that confidence to the cricket test.
But, similar issues plagued him in the Caribbean and was left out of the game’s longest format for good.
Rahul has yet to add a test cap since then, although he has traveled with the bat for the past 8 months.
Which brings us to the question: is India getting it wrong with KL Rahul?
Why am I asking this question? Good! A look at the Indian teams for the test tour in England and the white ball mission in Sri Lanka will give you a good idea of where I’m from.
After Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul is arguably India’s best white ball batsman in both formats. With the exception of the last T20I series against England, the dashing hitter has been a consistent heavyweight in ODI and T20I points for the past 18-24 months. So, wouldn’t it have been better if Rahul had traveled to Sri Lanka instead of England for the white ball series to prepare for the next T20 World Cup instead of warming up the bench or to serve drinks in the UK?
And there are good reasons why I’m asking this question.
- Indian management has made it clear that they are considering KL as an intermediate order option. So unless they “rest” both Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul cannot play in the middle order because even if some of Pujara or Rahane are dropped or rested, it will be Hanuma Vihari who will replace him. because it is well ahead in the order of attachment.
- KL Rahul have not played competitive cricket since the end of April. If he ends up warming up the bench for the whole summer Test in England (which is very very likely), then by the time he scores his guard in the colors of the Punjab Kings in mid-September, he would have had a good 4. , 5 months without playing a single competitive game.
- We saw the impact of the lack of playing time for an extended period at KL Rahul when he played against England in the T20I series earlier this year after warming up the bench in the Test series in Australia and then against the unit led by Joe Root. .
From being one of the hottest properties in Indian cricket to becoming a middle-order second backup hitter in Test Cricket not sure when his next international outing will be, Rahul has come full circle between England 2018 and England 2021.
Will it peak again and finally realize its enormous potential? Well, for that to happen he has to play regularly. Team management needs to understand that from now on, Rahul – the white ball hitter – is far more crucial and valuable than Rahul – saving a middle-order backup hitter in testing. Obviously they don’t understand this at the moment as if they had, the Karnataka player would have been sweating in Sri Lanka rather than serving drinks or enjoying a UK vacation.