Indian opener KL Rahul has been the latest sensation in Indian Cricket. He has shown glimpses of a previous Indian batsman of the same name who created marvels with the bat during his era. Rahul has proved himself as someone who can adapt himself to all the three formats and become the first-choice opener across all of them.
After a not-so-memorable debut in the Boxing Day Test of 2014, Rahul made a strong comeback in the very next game with a dazzling hundred at Sydney alongside his skipper Virat Kohli. Against the fiery pace of Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris and Josh Hazlewood, Rahul treated the Indian fans with some excellent cricketing shots. In his ODI debut, albeit against a weaker Zimbabwe side, he became the first ever Indian to score a century on debut. In the three-match series, he ended up as the highest run-getter at an outstanding average of 196!
In his ODI debut, albeit against a weaker Zimbabwe side, he became the first ever Indian to score a century on debut. In the three-match series, he ended up as the highest run-getter at an outstanding average of 196! In the T20s, though he had another disappointing debut, he made it up with a swashbuckling hundred against the Windies at Lauderhill that took India to the brink of what seemed like an unachievable target.
He became just the third Indian after Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma to score hundreds across all three formats in international cricket.
However, amidst all these shimmering records, there is an underlying shadow of inconsistency. Rahul averages 38.42 in 21 test innings, 55.00 in 6 ODI innings and 56.00 in 7 T20Is. Though the numbers are quite impressive, the fact is that these numbers have blossomed only because of a few big scores.
Rahul scored an excellent but an unfortunate 199 against England at Chennai. He has 4 centuries and just 1 fifty to his name in tests and these 5 innings contribute to more than 70% of his test runs. The remaining of them have been a string of low scores which are far below his average.
Similarly, in ODIs, he has a hundred and a fifty along with 4 other innings that add up to 220 runs. If the two big games are left out, he has just 57 runs in 4 innings, an average of less than 15! T20s too have the same story to depict, leaving out the 50 and 100-run innings, he averages a little over 20.
Rahul is a talented batsman without a spec of a doubt. It’s the start of the innings where he is tripping. With a shaky start, he is susceptible to the bowlers and a few of them have already used that to their advantage. His footwork while facing deliveries outside the off-stump isn’t up to his potential and he ends up throwing his wicket away by either getting caught behind or at slips, or by playing it on to his stumps like he did against Bangladesh.
With Murali Vijay cementing his place in the side that has fierce competition, Rahul will have to work on his inconsistency and perform regularly. To be a constant opener in all the formats of the game for India, Rahul will have to score runs regularly and will have to give up his current display of everything or nothing performances. Players like Shikhar Dhawan, experienced Gautam Gambhir, and Abhinav Mukund are waiting to grab any opportunity that may pop up.
Skipper Virat Kohli has shown confidence in Rahul and it will be up to him, especially in the upcoming Australia series, to back his captain’s choice and establish himself as a consistent and dependable batsman rather than a gamble to be played.