The curious case of Lokesh Rahul

An eye-pleasing batting technique, a hunger to score hundreds, an ability to play the big shots when needed, Lokesh Rahul has every single attribute a batsman needs to succeed at the international level. Despite putting in all the hard yards, Rahul is seen warming the benches most of the time. It is quite disheartening to see a player as talented as KL Rahul is struggling to cement his place is the playing XI.

The reasons behind Rahul’s inability to break into the playing XI are bizarre. The opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma has been scoring heavily in the limited overs format. The pair can be seen piling on the runs on a regular basis. With more than 3,500 runs in 81 innings together (in ODIs), the pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan has left Lokesh Rahul with very little opportunity to cement his place in the playing XI as an opener in ODI format.

A Packed Top Order

With the two opening slots already filled, the possibility of K.L. Rahul playing as an opener in the limited overs format seems bleak. Now comes the no.3 slot. Who would want the Indian skipper Virat Kohli to bat at 4? He’s India’s best bet at 3 simply because he has scored heavily in testing conditions across formats (at 3).

With the top order already packed, K.L. Rahul can possibly be the answer to India’s middle order conundrum. The team’s think-tank has tried out all possible permutations and combinations at number 4. The likes of Kedhar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, and MS Dhoni have tried their luck at 4, but a long-term solution hasn’t been found.

The Middle-order Conundrum

With the World Cup less than a year away, the think tank should once again focus its attention on Lokesh Rahul. Having a stable middle order would help the team to give clearly defined roles to the batters. The sooner Rahul fits into the number 4 slot, the better it would be for the Indian team.  The 26-year-old has batted at number four in the past, but without much success. Given the kind of talent he possesses, it won’t be wrong to give Rahul another chance at four. Watching a player as good as K.L. Rahul warming the benches isn’t a sight most Indians would relish.

What Makes K.L. Rahul Special ?

K.L. Rahul has scored centuries in all three formats of the game. The fact that he has scored centuries across all formats in such a short span of time throws ample light on his ability to adapt. His latest 100+ score came against the Englishmen at the Oval. An innings of 149 saw him stitch a remarkable partnership with young Rishabh Pant to keep the Indians in the hunt to register an unlikely victory in the 5th  and final test of the series.

If we go back in time, we’d be able to see his first century at the international level. A patient innings of 110 scored in testing conditions against a quality bowling attack at the SCG in January 2015 was enough to tell the world that this lad from Karnataka had the ability to face even the most formidable pace attacks in the world.

The Future in Store

His exploits in the test arena have been quite decent thus far. Back in 2017, he scored 7 consecutive 50+ scores. It is only a matter of time before he cements his place in the limited overs arena. Dhawan, already 33, might soon be seen vacating the opening slot for K.L. Rahul pretty soon. If that happens, Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul’s pair may well turn out to be the next big thing in Indian cricket.

Not long ago, former Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly, in one of his interviews with Cricbuzz, had clearly mentioned that he hopes talents like K.L. Rahul are handled well by the team management. Well, we can only hope that the team management pays heed to what Ganguly had said.

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