Indian batsman KL Rahul was a late inclusion in Team India’s playing XI for the first Test against England after first-choice opener Mayank Agarwal was ruled out with a concussion.
KL Rahul grabbed his opportunity with both hands, scoring a classy knock of 84 runs in the first innings, followed by a steady 24 in Team India’s second essay. The Karnataka batter showed great patience and discipline against a high-class England seam attack. He now seems to have provided the solution to India’s opening conundrum by nailing down the spot for himself.
While the match ended in a disappointing draw for the visitors, former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif believes KL Rahul has done enough to seal the spot for a couple of games at least. He also stated that the Punjab Kings captain’s imperious white-ball form has given him confidence.
On being asked if KL Rahul’s white-ball form had a part to play in his success as a Test opener at Trent Bridge, in a media interaction arranged by S ony, Kaif said:
“Yeah, definitely. You want to win the game on your own. When opening the batting for the Punjab team, you want to be a match-winner. He’s taken the same approach in Test matches. He wants to be the guy to hang in there and score runs. Mein doosro ke nahi chodunga (I won’t leave it up to the others). That comes with experience. He’s been part of the Test squad for two years but he hasn’t got a chance to play. He’s been traveling around, probably just watching from the outside and thinking about his game and everything’s come together for him nicely.”
The former Indian cricketer also admitted it would be a huge boost for Team India and skipper Virat Kohli if Rahul can build on his success in overseas conditions.
“It’s a great sign for Indian cricket and for Virat Kohli as well. Because as an opener when you go abroad, what KL did in the last game. If he keeps doing that, India’s got a good chance of winning matches,” said Kaif.
Where does KL Rahul’s inclusion leave Mayank Agarwal?
Life comes at you fast when you’re a player fighting for your spot in the Indian cricket team. While one might feel for Mayank Agarwal as he had to miss out on the first Test after taking a blow to the head in the nets, he will have to wait for another opportunity in the future.
Kaif opined that KL Rahul has ‘sealed the deal’ as India’s Test opener alongside Rohit Sharma. The former Indian batsman also believes Rahul is much more accomplished and equipped now than he was two years ago in terms of batting against swing and seam.
“Rahul has sealed the deal. He’ll play a couple of Test matches, there’s no doubt about that. He looked in control and India were in a winning position because of that opening stand between Rohit and Rahul, 97 runs in the first innings. The way KL batted, he held the innings and one end. You need someone who can bat long. KL has sealed the deal and we’ll see from there. I think Mayank will have to wait for now,” concluded Kaif.
With Prithvi Shaw also called up to the Test squad as a back-up, the prospect of Mayank reclaiming his opening spot for the Indian side seems bleak at the moment.