IND vs ENG 1st Test: After waiting 706 days on the sidelines, KL Rahul finally got an unexpected opportunity to don the white jersey again for Team India in the 1st Test against England. It was unexpected because Rahul was not in Virat Kohli’s Team India’s plans to open the batting with Rohit Sharma. But an injury to Shubman Gill and concussion to Mayank Agarwal meant, KL Rahul suddenly became an option, and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands scoring a brilliant 84-run knock in difficult conditions. Although he didn’t get many runs in the 2nd innings, his efforts are enough to keep him in Playing XI for the series.
Virat Kohli’s plans have always been to use KL Rahul in the middle-order in Tests in case Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane suffered any injuries. But for KL Rahul the opportunity never arrived before England. He spent on the sidelines in the Test side even though continued to score tons of runs in white-ball cricket. But when he got the opportunity to play another Test again, he did waste it and has made his skills flexible to adjust to any position the team wants him to bat at.
“I am happy to be back playing Test cricket. In the last two years that I wasn’t there, I worked hard on my batting and spoke to my coaches about the mindset. I was with the team for the last three series but as the team was doing well I didn’t many opportunities. I was happy to see the team do well at home and in Australia but it was also frustrating to see not getting opportunities. It was only practice, practice and practice. As a player, you want to be in the middle,” KL Rahul said at the post-match press conference on Sunday as rain denied India an opportunity to win the match.
However, if Mayank Agarwal is fit for the next match, it would be a tricky situation for the team management. Mayank is India’s first-choice opener until Prithvi Shaw joins the team ahead of the 3rd Test but he hasn’t got a lot of runs to prove his worth while KL Rahul has shown his form in England scoring a century in the warm-up match while scoring 84 in the 1st innings. But Rahul said he is flexible and is happy to bat at any position.
“In the last series I played in Test (West Indies) I didn’t score many runs but I took a lot of learnings from the series. I am happy that I could come here this time and start the series well. I am looking forward to continuing what I am doing and do well for my team be it opening the batting or in the middle-order,” KL Rahul said.
For KL Rahul to make it to the Playing XI, Team India will either have to ignore Mayank Agarwal or rest either of Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane. Both of them aren’t in great form and have struggled in England this time. If Pujara has scored 8, 15, 21, 38, 4 & 12*, Ajinkya Rahane has 49, 15 & 5 in the last three innings in England. Hence, KL Rahul wants to keep his options open and doesn’t rule out batting in the middle-order.
“At this level or when you play a team sport, you need to prepare for whatever opportunities might be thrown at you. That’s how I prepare myself. The team management was also of same opinion that my opportunity might come either opening the batting or in the middle-order,” KL Rahul said.
“I have tried to keep things simple and prepare in a way where I can do both. I had to keep changing my roles in the last 2-3 years, so it doesn’t surprise me anymore. It rather gives me great confidence to know that the team believes so much in me that I can deliver at both positions,” KL Rahul added.