15 December 2018 02:32 PM

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PRASENJIT DEY | 7 DECEMBER, 2018

Does KL Rahul Deserve His Place In The Team?

Does KL Rahul Deserve His Place In The Team?


"He has been looking in good shape, including today, it is just that he is finding new ways to get out.”

This was what India's batting coach Sanjay Bangar had said to the media after KL Rahul was dismissed playing a poor drive on the up in the practice game against Cricket Australia XI last week.

Five top order Indian batsmen had registered scores of 50 or more in that innings but it was only Rahul who had a single digit score to his name.

Cut to a week since that incident and Rahul has disappointed once again. This time, the match is the all important first Test of the four match series of India’s tour Down Under.

The ball was swinging. He had watched his fellow opening partner Murali Vijay leaving the deliveries outside off-stump from the other end without any fuss. However, when Hazelwood pitched a delivery wide outside the off-stump to Rahul, he went for the full blooded drive and ended up edging it straight into the hands of Aaron Finch at slips.

It was not necessary by any means. He could have just left that delivery alone and stayed at the crease. That's what the approach should be during the initial overs in these Australian conditions. It's not that he hasn't played here before. The last time India toured Down Under, he had shown that he had in him what it takes to adapt to these conditions. His century at Sydney during their last tour was evidence of that.

But things have changed quite drastically in the last year or so. His approach to batting in Test cricket has been questionable and it is summed up by his batting average of 23.44 this year. He has a total of 422 runs to his name in 19 innings with a best score of 149. Take that score out of the equation and his average will read an even poor 16.06 in 18 innings.

He has had his share of problems with the incoming deliveries. He has been dismissed either bowled or lbw 11 times out of the total 18 dismissals this year. But when he gives away chances like he did today with such poor shot selection, it becomes really hard to pardon him.

Bangar is right in every way. Rahul has indeed developed a habit of finding ways to get out and that is becoming increasingly visible with every passing day. It's one way or the other for him.

 


The above table shows all the opening partnerships Rahul has been involved in this year and the first wicket to fall in that stand. It clearly shows that out of the 15 occasions, the partnership has been broken a total if 14 times and Rahul has been guilty of being the first man to depart on eight out of those 14 occasions.

This sums up how poor he is in even spending time at the crease. The team management and selectors have invested their faith in him again and again but Rahul has only disappointed them.

A good opening partnership really helps a team in setting the tone for the rest of the batsmen to come. Even if it is not great in terms of runs, it matters a lot even if the openers can bide their time at the crease. But Rahul hasn't even been able to do so.

There has been a drastic change in his temperament as a Test player in the last couple of years or so. While his limited overs game has gone on to another level, his standard as a Test batsman has gone down.

It can't be said that his transformation into a limited overs player has had an effect on his longer format approach because there are several other players who are playing all three formats successfully. It's just a matter of temperament and Rahul needs to build that from the scratch once again. If he isn't able to do that soon enough, the selectors must give chances to those who deserve.

At the moment, India have plenty of deserving candidates waiting in the wings.

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