Former India pacer questions struggling Test opener’s place in playing XI, asks him to play in county cricket and earn his place in team
KL Rahul has struggled at the top of the Indian batting order in whites since that valiant half-century against South Africa in Johannesburg.
The string of 20s, against Bangladesh in Chattogram and Australia in Nagpur failed to justify the batter, whose talent is never in question.
But with the rise of Shubman Gill and the likes of Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal waiting on the wings, along with now veteran Shikhar Dhawan still on the horizon, pressure is undoubtedly mounting on KL Rahul.
While many spoke about it in hushed tones, former Indian pacer Venkatesh Prasad appeared to have let his emotions flow. The former bowling coach of the Indian team took to Twitter to hold up the mirror on KL Rahul’s performance while comparing it with those who are looking for a window of opportunity.
There is a view that KL Rahul has an outstanding overseas Test record. But stats speak otherwise. He has a test avg of 30 overseas in 56 innings. He has scored 6 overseas centuries but followed it up with a string of low scores that’s why averaging 30. Let’s look at a few others pic.twitter.com/MAvHM01TcY
— Venkatesh Prasad (@venkateshprasad) February 20, 2023
“There is a view that KL Rahul has an outstanding overseas Test record. But stats speak otherwise. He has a test avg of 30 overseas in 56 innings. He has scored 6 overseas centuries but followed it up with a string of low scores that’s why averaging 30,” Prasad tweeted highlighting the disappointing average of KL Rahul (33.44 after 47 Tests).
“Shikhar Dhawan has the best overseas average amongst recent openers. Avg of nearly 40 with 5 100’s. Though he too hasn’t been consistent in Test but had Outstanding centuries in SL and NZ, plus a much better home record (sic),” Prasad pointed out.
“Mayank Agarwal after the brilliant start in Aust did struggle in away test matches. But he has by far the best home record. Avg of nearly 70 in 13 innings,2 double 100’s & a 150 on a Wankhede pitch where everyone else struggled. Great against spin & had a prolific domestic season (sic),” the former Indian pacer said while highlighting the performance of one of KL Rahul’s close friends.
“Shubhman Gill has had a brief international career and in 14 overseas innings averages 37, with his 91 at Gabba amongst the best overseas 4th innings and has been in outstanding form,” Prasad said of the man who might get a nod in the next Border Gavaskar Trophy Test in Indore.
A few people thinking i have something personal against KL Rahul. Infact it is the opposite. I wish well for him and playing him in such form was never going to enhance his confidence. For him to earn his place back in Test cricket, now that the domestic season has ended, cont.
— Venkatesh Prasad (@venkateshprasad) February 19, 2023
“But with KL being retained for the remaining 2 test matches, if he is picked in the playing 11, Indore is his best chance of coming back to form and silencing critics like me. Else needs to play county cricket, perform well and make a comeback in the Test side,” Prasad said, virtually challenging KL Rahul to perform or take the county road back ‘home’.
The opinion is naturally divided about the man who grabbed his chance, and then consolidated it after Gill got injured during the England tour.
True, KL Rahul played 31 Tests abroad, compared to 16 at home. But apart from 48.14 in the West Indies, he has nothing much to boast about. KL Rahul averaged just 30.69 in his 31 away Tests.
With their spinners bamboozling Australian batters with their craft, India can afford to make some changes in the last two matches of the Border Gavaskar Trophy.
The change might be in the offing, as KL Rahul was already relieved of his responsibility as the vice-captain of the team. Many look at the decision as a signal for KL Rahul to open a window of opportunity for Gill, the man in form.
It will be interesting to see what lies ahead: Can Gill regain his place in the playing XI by replacing the man who displaced him? Or will selectors give KL Rahul another vote of confidence, perhaps one last time?