Year After Cup of Bitter ‘Koffee’, KL Rahul Brews Success With Bat
Nearly a year back, KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya were the butt of all trolls on social media. After their controversial remarks in a popular television show drew sharp criticism from all sections, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had suspended the two cricketers pending investigation and withdrawn them from the then-ongoing tour of Australia.
While Pandya has had a chequered career since owing to his injuries and lackadaisical form, 12 months down the line, social media is still abuzz with Rahul. This time, however, being lauded as a figure capable of executing impossible feats; one who can do no wrong and can be expected to pull rabbits out of hats at will.
The resurgence had started right after the controversy when the BCCI let Rahul take part in the tour against England Lions at home.
Although he faltered in the three unofficial ODIs he played, Rahul got back to his groove with knocks of 89 and 81 in the two unofficial Tests that followed, as the visitors slumped to an innings defeats.
He scored 47 and 50 in the first two T20Is but only got one ODI given skipper Virat Kohli didn’t tinker much with the line-up. Rahul’s technique had fallen into place by then – neither was he getting unfazed with the odd in-swingers nor chasing wide deliveries outside off.
In short, he was no longer unearthing new ways to get himself dismissed.
He retained his ‘Grade B’ BCCI central contract and went a notch higher with his form in the Indian Premier League scoring 593 runs in 14 matches at an astonishing rate of 135.38.
He carried his limited-overs form to England and despite India crashing out in the semi-final, Rahul excelled at the top with Sharma. He played the first two games at No 6 and No 4 before Shikhar Dhawan’s injury propelled him to take up the opener’s role.
But more importantly, it was his flexibility of playing both as an opener and lower down the order that had helped India, a side which was still figuring out its perfect middle-order combination.
Ever since he made his international comeback post the ban, Rahul has emerged as an indispensable figure for Indian cricket. And it’s not just merely because of the numbers – 922 runs in 19 ODIs (three centuries) and 679 runs in 17 T20Is (seven half-centuries).
While he did his job pretty well, he also donned the captain’s hat in the fifth T20I after regular captain Kohli had opted out of the game and Rohit Sharma failed to take field in the second innings.
With his responsibilities growing by the day, it’s safe to say he has emerged not just as a better batsman for Team India but as a more dependable character for the side.
He only justified the faith shown in him by having a stupendous series in New Zealand as well (Rahul is not part of the upcoming Test series). Even on Tuesday, despite India going down in the third tie against New Zealand and suffering their first ODI whitewash in 31 years, Rahul slammed yet another hundred.
And in the process, he became the only other Indian wicket-keeper batsman to score a hundred in ODIs outside Asia besides the legendary Rahul Dravid – one who had coached him during his India A days and tipped him to be a role model even amidst the controversy that had seen Rahul fall out with the fans.
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