A ‘Versatile’ KL Rahul is a Much Bigger Asset

KL Rahul has been in red-hot form for quite some time. The lad from Karnataka has been churning out fifties at a rate of knots. Shikhar Dhawan’s absence from the side ( because of recurring injuries) has been a blessing in disguise for KL Rahul.

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He might appear a bit frantic at first in 50-over cricket, but he makes batting look ridiculously easy once he gets in. Also, he is equally good at smacking the bowlers around in 20-over cricket. 

To top it all, KL Rahul seems to have come of age. His talent was never in question, but talent alone cannot help you win matches. You need to be able to score consistently if you want to make your presence felt. 

Now, consistency is not everybody’s cup of tea. You cannot showcase consistency if your position in the batting order is insecure, but KL Rahul seems to have learnt a lot about versatility at a young age.

His place in the batting order had been a matter of debate for quite some time. Surprisingly, the lad from Karnataka has turned into a multi-purpose cricketer. He can share the opening duties with Rohit Sharma if need be. Batting in the middle order isn’t a problem either. Furthermore, he has been keeping wickets for his side. To put things simply, he has been punching well above his weight and you cannot ask for anything more, can you? 

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Back in January this year, KL Rahul was seen smashing the Aussie bowlers all around the park in Rajkot. His 52-ball 80 took his side to a score of 340. The thing that stood out was: Rahul batted at five, which isn’t his regular position in the batting order. Furthermore, he went about his business without consuming too many deliveries. Rahul, who started out as an opener, seems to have grown accustomed to playing in the middle order. Harsha Bhogle spoke at length about KL Rahul’s versatility while commentating. Here’s what the Tweet from the veteran commentator said:

Well, KL Rahul did not have much to choose as the opening partnership of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma has been in the limelight for quite some time. Till date, Sharma and Dhawan have scored more than 4500 runs while batting together. Therefore, the team’s think tank never felt the need to look beyond Dhawan and Sharma.

Now that Shikhar Dhawan is facing injury concerns, the team’s think tank wants Mayank Agarwal and Prithwi Shaw to work together as openers, which means Rahul might not get too many opportunities to open the innings once Rohit Sharma is back. But now he can cement his place in the batting order because he is a specialist batsman that can keep wickets.

How is a versatile KL Rahul helpful?

A wicket-keeper batsman is an added plus: It is always good to have a wicket-keeper batsman in the top five. At present, Rahul is batting at five, which means a couple of all-rounders can be sent in at six and seven. Once Hardik Pandya is match fit, he can be sent in at six followed by Jadeja at seven. Having two genuine all-rounders in the line up will not only lend stability and depth to the batting order, but will also allow the captain to go into the match with as many as six bowling options.

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The opener that can don many hats: 

The ‘multi-purpose’ batsman: You can ask him to share the opening duties with Rohit Sharma if need be. Batting at number four/five isn’t a problem either. Having a jack of many trades, that can bat according to the team’s requirement, happens to be an added plus. Want someone to bat at four and keep the ship afloat? Rahul is there to do the job for you. Want someone to bat in the middle order and score a quickfire 70? Rahul will do it for you. Simply put, he can shift gears in accordance with the match situation.

In six ODI innings in 2020 (Feb 20, 2020), KL Rahul has scored 325 runs with a couple of fifties and a century. There’s more to KL Rahul than what meets the eye. The hundred scored by him against the Kiwis at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui came while batting at five, after the team’s top order was blown away like nine pins.

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The all-format player: Back in 2015, during the fourth and final test match of the 2014-15 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the Karnataka lad made the Aussies sweat it out at the SCG. He stitched a crucial 141-run partnership for the 3rd wicket with Virat Kohli. The then 22-year-old spent a good amount of time in the middle as he was ready to knuckle down but did not think twice before punishing the looseners. 

Three years down the line, he showcased his power-hitting ability and scored 659 runs in 14 IPL games at an average of over 50. His heroics in the IPL helped him transform into an all-format player from a ‘Test specialist’.

During the 2018 Tour of England, Rahul scored a scintillating century at the Emirates Old Trafford.

KL Rahul has been a vital part of the playing XI in recent times and has done reasonably well in the limited opportunities he has got. Here’s a specialist batter that can bat anywhere in the top five and his wicket-keeping skills come as an added plus. Therefore, having him in the playing XI is bound to reap dividends in the long-run.

A Lot Is Wrong With The Citizenship Amendment Bill

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) seems to have taken the country by storm. The Bill hasn’t been received well by the minorities. Many believe the Bill is ‘undemocratic’ and aims to hamper the nation’s integrity.

People believe that the country is fast turning into a majoritarian state (much like the Sinhala-led Sri Lanka). Recently, Assaduddin Owaisi, the leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), tore a copy of the Bill in the Lok Sabha. The AIMIM chief believes that the Bill will divide the country into countless fragments.

The CAB hasn’t been well received by the minority communities because it violates the constitution.

Here is how the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB) violates the Indian Constitution:

First and foremost, the Bill violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality to people (Indians and foreigners). Categorising people along religious lines violates Article 14 of the constitution.

Next, the classification of people along religious lines is unjust. Classifying people based on religion is against the idea of secularism, unless the govt. wants to turn the country into a radical Hindu state.

India is a secular state, and the same has also been mentioned in the Preamble. The Preamble is the guiding light that helps interpret the constitution.

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Furthermore, the Bill also ends up violating the Assam Accord of 1985 by granting citizenship to illegal immigrants (on the basis of religion) who came here before December 31, 2014. The CAB clearly violates the Assam Accord, which says that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh (those who came after March 25, 1971) will be deported.

The CAB will also nullify the impact of the National Register of Citizen (NRC) in the state of Assam if people, who were left out of the final list, are given citizenship through the CAB.

In recent times, the Election Commission and the Assam Border Police have labelled many as illegal immigrants (many of them happen to be Hindus). The govt has proposed to drop all of the charges against the Hindus, which means only Muslims will be deemed as ‘foreigners’ by the law. Earlier, the contracts of those classified as ‘foreigners’ were terminated by the BJP. Now, we’ll have only Muslims standing before the Tribunals, which will make the exercise even more unjust and discriminatory. 

The curious case of the Lankan Tamils

The problem doesn’t end here. More than 2.5 million Lankan Tamils have been excluded from the list. Why isn’t the govt paying attention? The Lankan have witnessed some of the bloodiest struggles in the history of mankind. They ought to be included in the CAB if it is a genuine attempt to grant citizenship to the Hindus.

Culturally, the Tamils in Sri Lanka have a lot in common with the Tamils in India (The language and diction might differ a bit). Most importantly, Indian Tamils will be more than happy to welcome their long-lost brothers from the island nation, then why has the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ denied citizenship to the Hindus in Sri Lanka? And, why is nobody questioning this? Recently, Tamil actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan questioned the govt’s intentions after the Lankan Tamils were not included in the CAB. 

Possible reasons

Tamils aren’t considered a vote bank by the Bhartiya Janata Party. They account for little in BJP’s Hindu Rashtra because a majority of them do not speak Hindi. Furthermore, Sri Lanka is not a Muslim-majority country wherein the Hindus are being suppressed. As long as Muslims don’t come into the picture, the issue does not make it to the BJP’s list of priorities.

To draw the curtains

Simply put, the Bill isn’t a symbol of BJP’s love for the Hindu population residing in the neighbourhood. It is a tool that has been meticulously designed to pin-point the Muslims. The CAB seeks to achieve what the NRC could not. It seeks to disintegrate the country by alienating the Muslims. 

India versus Pakistan: Rivalries, sub-plots and cricket…

The moment people hear about an India-Pakistan cricket match, blood starts gushing through their veins. Cricket freaks across the globe have their hearts pounding in their chests. Work gets sidelined, with emails piling on at a rate of knots in mailboxes, and all of us are there, with our eyes glued to the TV screens, desperately waiting for a miracle to occur out of nowhere. Every time Virat hits the ball all the way to the fence, the entire nation erupts in jubilation. The entire nation is there, hopping and jumping in excitement. There’s anticipation wherever you look.

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English County cricket: Is it reserved only for the greats?

+It certainly won’t be an overstatement to say that the Indian test side is at the very peak of its prowess. The Indians have had an emphatic home season, handing comprehensive defeats to the likes of New Zealand, England and Australia. The test side looks solid and stable with the top-order piling on the runs, the middle order adding significantly to the contributions made by the top-order. Of late, the Indian seamers have also been performing reasonably well. ‘What about the spinners?’, you’d be thinking. Ah, Ashwin’s contributions speak louder than words. Have to call him a contemporary great.

But hold on, most of these players have only delivered the goods while playing on home soil. These players haven’t really performed during overseas tours. In 2014, the Indians had gone down like a pack of cards when they toured England. They suffered a 3-1 thrashing at the hands of England. As the ‘red cherry’ swung in England, the Indians found it hard to tackle the swinging ‘red cherry’ on the seamer-friendly tracks of England.

The South Africans are scheduled to tour England in 2017. Of the proteas team, quite a few players have been a part of English county sides. JP Duminy has had a stint with Surrey, Vernon Philander has played for Middlesex, Faf du Plessis has represented Lancashire, Hashim Amla has had a stint with Essex. The list is never-ending.
On the contrary, only a handful of Indian players in the current test side have had the ‘privilege’ of representing English county sides. Cheteshwar Pujara had a stint with Yorkshire in 2015 after having failed to attract bidders during the IPL auction. His return to form can be credited to his time with Yorkshire.

When the Indians toured England back in 2007 and made the Englishmen bite the dust, almost all their squad member had enjoyed a stint in county cricket. Sachin Tendulkar (Yorkshire) Sourav Ganguly (Glamorgan), Rahul Dravid (Kent), VVS Laxman (Lancashire), Yuvraj Singh (Yorkshire), Zaheer Khan (Worcestershire) had spent a considerable amount of time playing for English Counties. All of them had enhanced their skills while sweating it out in England.

Playing in Ranji Trophy doesn’t allow Indian players to go out of their comfort zones and get access to those spicy and lively English batting strips. Another problem with the current generation of cricketers is that they’re too busy playing for their respective franchises. Earlier, the summer used to be reserved for playing county cricket in England. But with lucrative and cash-rich Twenty20 leagues coming into existence, playing for county sides seems to have taken a backseat. The charm and the glamour of the IPL are too formidable to be disrupted.

A stint in English county cricket would allow the likes of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Murali Vijay to get accustomed to playing the short ball.

Raina, in particular, has struggled against short-pitched deliveries fired at him at steaming pace. It has been one of the foremost reasons behind his absence from international Test Match Cricket. Batting against short-pitch bowling can be a challenging experience at first, but it would allow Raina to learn from the mistakes he has committed is the past. Similar is the case with Rohit Sharma. He’s a formidable force when he bats on the slow Indian and spin-friendly tracks here in India, but turns into an ordinary batsman when it comes to performing overseas. A season or two in English domestic circuit would allow him to eliminate his weakness of getting beaten-up against out-swinging deliveries outside the Off-stump.

Then there is this duo of Jadeja and Ashwin. The moment the ball begins to grip and turn, they’re unplayable, but their prowess with the ball in hand can only be seen on Indian turfs. The variations they produce appear harmless on seaming wicket outside the sub-continent. A county season in England would act as an ideal training ground for them to learn the art of bowling spin in varied conditions.

If Virat Kohli wants a taste of victory outside the sub-continent, a pace bowling unit capable of taking 20 wickets in a match. Ishant has some serious pace but has under-performed for the most part of his career. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar can swing the ball both ways but lacks pace. Umesh Yadav is perhaps the best among them. He bowled with renewed vigour and firepower. India’s pace trio would get to learn quite a few skills if they plan to be a part of English counties.

This is something Zaheer Khan did really well. After hitting a rough patch in 2006, Zaheer Khan flew all the way to England to play white-sweater cricket for Worcestershire on the seaming, bouncing tracks of England. He honed his skills and came back all guns blazing into the Indian side.

Some tough calls are the need of the hour if the Indians want to fare well in seaming conditions. Of late, star Indian batsman Virat Kohli opened up and stated he’s keen to stretch is nerves in county cricket as he aims to prepare for his next outing in England in 2018.

So, to top it all, it won’t be wrong to say that county cricket would act as an ideal training ground for our ‘desi’ batsmen. But again, truth be told, they’re too busy flexing their muscles in cash-rich Twenty20 leagues. We need BCCI’s intervention here. If the overseas records are to be improved, we certainly need our players to swing it around for a season or two in county cricket.