Innings – 22
Runs – 468
Avg – 22.29
If you have followed cricket news after India’s defeat at Perth, these numbers would not seem alien to you. These are KL Rahul’s numbers in tests in 2018. Such highlighted has been string of poor performances and his position is certainly under scrutiny.
A player whose class and elegance was compared to Kohli has looked out of sorts in tests this year. Before we proceed to focus the lens deeper into his performances, it is advisable to read my previous article “The curious case of KL Rahul”.
Initially, it was baffling to see KL Rahul warming the benches in test matches despite being technically more sound than Dhawan. This year has been exactly the opposite. He has played all but one test match and has not returned any better numbers than Dhawan. Also it’s not that he was out of form. He was just spectacular during the IPL and began the English summer with a breathtaking century in the T-20 at Cardiff. But since then, it has been miserable times for the guy from Karnataka. If we leave the second innings of the Oval test (where defeat was inevitable which took the pressure of him and he flourished), he averages a shade over 18 which are not pleasing numbers for a player shouldered the role of seeing off the new ball.
In test matches, by the looks of it, it appears that he is still in T-20 mode chasing balls way outside the off stump and playing expansive drives. He has been unsure of his off stump and the huge gap between the bat and the pad has given a chance to the incoming deliveries to be his undoing.
Rahul started his career as an orthodox batsman. But now with more and more T-20 experience, Rahul has developed many unorthodox shots in his kitty. He has grown leaps and bounds as a limited-overs batsman and you can’t resist the temptation of “Wow” when you watch him play. But he has not been able to switch to the test mode, which is the other extreme of T-20. In test matches, one doesn’t need to force the issue. You have to patient unlike in T-20.
Rahul’s batting has brought the back the memories of Rohit Sharma off late in the way he is being backed despite repeated failures. Rohit was also given a long extended run in ODI’s because of the talent he possesses. He was so pleasing to the eye and yet looked so awkward when he threw his wicket away. It was because of his talent selectors kept turning to him without any result. It was eventually Dhoni’s masterstroke to ask him to open the batting which turned his career and rest is history. Similar is the case with Rahul. It’s almost criminal to leave such a gifted player out of playing XI, but at present “Rahul is just not there”, according to the batting maestro Sunil Gavaskar.
Failure of Rahul also signifies the fact that class and technique are not everything, there are many other variables to succeed at the highest level. Mindset is an important part of the game and at present, he is not in a good frame of mind. Yes, it is necessary to back a guy and Rahul deserves every bit of it. But such string of low scores could also dent his confidence. Probably he needs some time off to restore the old Rahul we all saw four years before on the tour down under.
The irony of it all is that Rahul emerged as a technically correct batsman perfectly suited to only test cricket but he is now considered as an outstanding T-20 player who is finding it hard to score in test matches.