When the stage was set for the England Vs India 2018 Test series, the stakes were quite high for one man – KL Rahul. Termed as the next batting icon by several greats across India, he was expected to deliver the Test series in some style against England in their backyard. Replacing someone as experienced as Cheteshwar Pujara, the onus was on Rahul to get India off to a solid start in the overseas conditions.
Walking in at number three in the first innings at Edgbaston, Rahul got squared by Sam Curran. He got a lucky boundary through the third man region. On the very next delivery, what the Karnataka batsman did was just unforgivable.
On a delivery that should have been well left on, Rahul tried to depict his aggressive style by driving, only to have the ball crashing on to his stumps through an inside edge. His stay in the second innings was equally painful, living off inside edges. Eventually, he returned after scoring mere 13.
DISASTROUS NUMBERS OVERSEAS:
A huge cause of concern for India has been Rahul’s form when it comes to outside the subcontinent. It must be noted, however, that we do not include his numbers in the Windies, and only in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) are considered.
Having made his debut at Melbourne in the Boxing Day Test of 2014. Rahul’s numbers in the mentioned countries inspire no confidence at all.
The India opener KL Rahul has played a total of five games (10 innings) in SENA countries and has a mere 177 runs to his name.
The more shocking aspect about Rahul though, is that out of the 177 runs, 110 came in a single innings alone, when he got his maiden Test ton at Sydney.
Since then, however, Rahul’s performance has been mere shambolic. To have scored the 62.1 per cent of your career runs in SENA countries in just one innings is ridiculous. It also speaks highly about how inconsistent the lad is.
INNINGS LIKE BINARY DIGITS:
To make matters worse for Rahul, if we exclude that knock of 110 at Sydney, his career average in SENA countries drops down to a gloomy 7.44. With all due respect to Rahul, even Mohammad Shami averages 12.66 in SENA countries.
The more worrying aspect about the elegant opener is that he has been dismissed far too quickly in the discussed nations. Out of the ten innings Rahul has batted in SENA nations, the right-hander has been restricted to single digits precisely 50 per cent of the times. This means, every other innings, Rahul is dismissed in single digits while batting in these countries.
Well, that pretty much answers the question of how can India excel as a Test side in alien conditions. If their gun opener has such appalling stats to his name.
WHAT NEXT FOR KL RAHUL?
With the Indian top order under immense scrutiny, time is indeed running out for not just Rahul. But even for Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. The likes of Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal are scoring runs with ease for India A.
With intense competition for slots going on, it’s now or never for KL Rahul in overseas conditions.
There is clearly no doubt over Rahul’s talent in the longest format. But somehow, he will have to convert that promise into actual performance. If he manages to do so, India as a unit will benefit massively.