Latest and breaking Cricket News, India vs Australia
Latest and breaking Cricket News, India vs Australia, KL Rahul in Rajkot shows why India miss MS Dhoni's batting and wicketkeeping
IND vs AUS 2nd ODI: In Rajkot on Friday, donning the wicketkeeping role after being pushed to No.5 in the batting order, KL Rahul came out with flying colors on both counts further cementing his growing stature as a limited-overs specialist in the Indian team
KL Rahul scored 80 runs in Rajkot ODI vs Australia
KL Rahul batted at No. 3 in series opener while came in at No. 5 in Rajkot
Rahul also donned wicketkeeping gloves in absence of Rishabh Pant
Do you remember an Indian batsman who was forced to take up wicketkeeping duties to support the team's needs? Do you also remember the same batsman being asked to open the innings at times while being pushed drop down the request at other instances in request to cater to the team's requirements? If you think the batsman's name starts with Rahul, you are half-right. On Friday, KL Rahul, in his very own imitable style reminded everyone of the job his India senior and batting legend Rahul Dravid played for the nation during his playing career. Not only this, KL with his memorable day in Rajkot vs Australia reminded us of another legend, one who has also been the toast of the nation as of late - MS Dhoni.
With a concussion injury ruling out regular wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant out of Rajkot, KL Rahul was forced to take up the gloves as Virat Kohli suspected it was the right time to boost the team's batting after a below-par performance vs Australia in Mumbai. Despite the fact that Rahul was spared the glovework early on after Australia captain Aaron Finch won the toss and asked India to bat first. But while Rahul had batted at No.3 in the 1st ODI at the Wankhede, he was pushed down the request in Rajkot to No.5 - a position where he had previously batted only once before in ODIs.
Finally, Rahul arrived to the crease in the 33rd over at the fall of Shreyas Iyer. Kohli was at the flip side with the scoreboard reading 198/3. Clearly, India needed some fast runs with Kohli already settled at 42 and Rahul didn't disappoint.
Getting off the mark of his second ball, Rahul then proceeded to unleash a whirlwind of boundaries (6 fours, 3 sixes) in a whirlwind 52-ball-80 and got run-out only in the last over of the innings while going for a suicidal double. Rahul looked so familiar during his 52-ball stay that a run-out was possibly the only mode of dismissal to get him out of the crease. While India were going at around 6 runs for every over before Rahul's arrival, his explosive innings took the hosts into the fifth gear as India finished with a mammoth 340/6 at the finish of their 50 overs. Clearly, Rahul had played his finisher's job to perfection.
Incidentally, this was the first run through since 2013, that an Indian batsman scored a fifty batting at No.5 or lower at a strike-rate more than 150! No prizes for guessing the last Indian player to do this. MS Dhoni. In fact before Rahul's knock, amongst all such innigs played by Indians, Dhoni's name featured 4 times in the top-5. It says something about India's finishing problems that since Dhoni's 38-ball-62 vs Australia in Bengaluru 2013, no one else has been able to repeat that performance till Rahul did on Friday. As far as reminding us of Dhoni is concerned, Rahul wasn't finished at this point.
During Australia's chase, Rahul stunned viewers with his wicketkeeping as well when he affected a lightning-fast stumping to find Finch's shoes attached to the crease with (almost) nothing behind them. Finch was looking good and seemed to be piling the agony on India since taking his team across the finish line with an unbeaten hundred in the last game. Fair to say, if Dhoni was watching the match, he would have been glad for Rahul's stumping.
But Dhoni played 350 ODIs as a wicketkeeper and Dravid took up the gloves in 70. So of course, it's not fair to compare Rahul with these legends after just one game. And who knows what will happen once Pant is back into the side. But what Rahul did in Rajkot was no mean feat and Kohli should do well to remember that he can bank upon the Karnataka batsman to haul the team out of difficulty at whatever point he needs to. Maybe, after all the hullabaloo over the issue of No.4 in the past couple of years, Rahul is the '3-D player' India deserve. The good news: they already have him and he seems to be doing admirably!