Rain, abandonment, injury, Nepal, none of them could stall India’s progress into the Super 4s. More rain, near abandonment, injury, Dunith Wellalage couldn’t stall India’s progress into the Finals of the Asia Cup.
India meant business. This was evident when a team committed to resting and rotating its players made them play back-to-back matches. The two-day one-dayer was here. Kohli, KL, Bumrah were there too.
But KL and Bumrah were not always there. KL had a niggle, missed out on the first two matches. This brought on some obvious and some not-so-obvious criticism – is KL Rahul soft? Is he injury-prone? Is the rope given to him too long? But then KL Rahul’s ODI numbers are red hot. More so in the middle order, where he can be the custodian of both acceleration and sustenance. Not unlike KL, Shreyas Iyer too has compelling ODI numbers. His fitness, not unlike KL, isn’t too compelling either.
Was picking them both in the World Cup squad a mistake?
This opinion soon proved to be a mistake. Partly, however. KL Rahul returned with aplomb – and bombed the Pakistani bowlers. But Shreyas Iyer’s back spasm ruled him out of the first two Super 4 matches.
On the field, KL isn’t half as demonstrative as Kohli. This lack of exuberance can be often misconstrued. Then he makes comments such as, “strike rate is overrated”. They stick.
Yet behind the stumps, KL’s calls and inputs have been spot-on – though such is his demeanour, it puts forth the question, is KL overdoing the underdoing bit? The frontmen of team India are no less than rock stars in their own right.
Rohit, Virat, Hardik are more often swayed by Jadeja and Siraj’s antics and appeals than the evidence at hand. Going down leg, so what? Let’s shake a leg with Jaddu, he wants it so bad.
So while KL behind the stumps was against a review, so overcome with appeal-cheer was Rohit, he fully disregarded his stumper’s counsel. Come on, KL, you gotta sell yourself – and your opinion.
To his benefit, he did keep wickets after his 111 not out. That with the option of Ishan Kishan at hand. But then this is such clichéd healthy competition – a keeper batter with a double ton and a row of 50s breathing down your neck.
While KL’s ton against Pakistan earned him all the brownie points, it was his 39 against Sri Lanka that stood out. KL stood tall, his back-to-back boundaries against an unstoppable Dunith Wellalage were of the highest caliber.
Beyond KL’s batting, the question that remains is – how good is he as a wicketkeeper? Keeping to spin, KL may not appear to be the finished article; often fumbling, nowhere as articulate as Rishabh Pant but there are positives – his suggestions to Kuldeep Yadav (appeared to be regarding an outside off line) payed off. A no-fuss stumping followed.
KL Rahul just said he doesn't want to take credit for Kuldeep's wickets just because he tipped him on where to bowl. Bizarre. Aren't keepers the entire reason for any wickets spinners take?— cricBC (@cricBC) September 12, 2023
That’s another thing, KL doesn’t appear to fuss about much. He went to the extent of saying that he was nervous on return. At least initially while batting.
What KL doesn’t do for himself, his PR does in spades. Prior to his return, when KL was warming up at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) – keeping, batting, looking his usual nonchalant self; it was conveyed in videos, photographs across social media. To his 8.2 million followers on X (formerly Twitter).
Often KL Rahul may appear to be the Cheteshwar Pujara of India’s white ball team. Going about his job, not making much of it. As with Pujara, injuries have often set KL’s career back.
While Pujara has made light of his twin knee surgeries and played over 100 Test matches, how far will KL go?
The answer may lie in whether he is prepared to sacrifice the longer format to lengthen his career? Close to 9 years after making his Test debut, India’s former stand-in captain has been superseded by others.
Today, Hardik Pandya is Rohit Sharma’s deputy. A fit again Jasprit Bumrah is next in the pecking order. Being away from the limelight could work for Rahul. And who knows, he may go for the kill again. Or Rahul going for the KL, now that’s a pun he won’t find funny.
KL Rahul is back.
From injury. From lack of form.
Two innings, contrasting conditions, and the full gamut. He kept wickets. He kept to himself. At times he didn’t keep to himself. And that’s what stood out.
He initiated Kuldeep Yadav to bowl an outside off line, CRACKED and stumped He Counselled his captain not to take the review But he didn’t take KL Rahul. seriously
Does anyone take KL Rahul seriously?
Does KL Rahul take himself seriously?
Or does KL Rahul take himself too seriously?
Or just like strike-rate, is expression also overrated?