The rise of KL Rahul – the keen learner: Kannaur Lokesh Rahul is definitely a ‘keen learner’. He made big headlines during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2014-15, when he made his debut on the Boxing Day Test Match (the third test match of the four-test series) in Melbourne.
His debut was a disaster since he could face only eight deliveries and scored just 3 runs in the first innings, batting at No 6. In the second knock, promoted to No 3, he scored just a single. So it was not a debut worth remembering for this youngster.
However, the fourth and final test of the series played at Sydney had a lot in store. The regular opener, Shikhar Dhawan was dropped and Suresh Raina was drafted into the Playing XI.
Virat Kohli had taken charge of the team since the then skipper, MS Dhoni had announced his retirement for the longer format. Wriddhiman Saha replaced Dhoni in the Playing XI.
Rahul, opening the innings alongwith Murali Vjay, went on to register his maiden Test century in his very second Test. He lived up to the confidence reposed in him by the skipper Kohli.
In a stay of 356 minutes at the crease, Rahul notched up 110 runs off 262 deliveries with 13 four and a six.
Along with skipper Virat Kohli, the 23-year old Rahul, was engaged in a 141-run partnership for the third-wicket, before falling ‘caught and bowled’ to Mitchell Starc.
Scoring a century in Australian conditions against the bowling attack of the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazzlewood, Nathan Lyon, Ryan Harris, by someone playing only in the second test match, was no mean thing.
India toured Sri Lanka in August 2015 for a three-test tour to Sri Lanka under the leadership of Virat Kohli.
The First test at Galle was not very productive for Rahul. He had replaced the injured Murali Vijay and could score only 7 runs in the first innings and 5 runs in the second.
An injury to the regular opener, Shikhar Dhawan gave another opportunity for Rahul to feature in the Playing XI in the second test. He made full use of the opportunity and made a mark.
In an interview with TOI, Rahul had said, “Of course, I have to be more consistent. As an opener, one needs to make sure that you’re building the right foundation for the team. I agree that I did not perform well in a couple of Tests. But I am still a bit new in international cricket and I am taking it in my stride. It is important that I treat successes and failures equally and learn from it to become a better player”.
About Kohli, Rahul said. “It’s a lot of fun batting with Virat. I enjoy having him around. He brings positivity in the team and the way he approaches each game is wonderful. I get to learn a lot from it. I’ve been a great admirer of his batting”.
The Karnataka youngster, representing Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL circuit, had a decent outing in the 2016 edition. Featuring in 14 games, he amassed a total of 397 run at an average of 44.11 and an unbeaten 68* being his best score.
Travelling to Zimbabwe, under the leadership of MS Dhoni for a series of 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is, Rahul emerged as the leading run scorer in the ODIs. Playing in all three games (remaining unbeaten on two occasions), he scored a total of 196 runs, averaging 196 with 100* as his individual best.
Winning the Player of the Match in the first and third ODIs and also being awarded the Player of the Series, Rahul said, “I always knew I had the game to do well in every format. It was just a matter of time. The last couple of months have been really good. To come out here and perform the way I have is really pleasing. Credit to our bowlers for make our job easy. I knew I could go out there, take my time and play proper cricketing shots. It was a challenge for me to remain calm and play my natural game. I”m not thinking about West Indies yet. What”s on my mind right now is to switch to the T20 format.”
Incidentally KL Rahul is the only member from the squad that went to Zimbabwe, who would be part of the squad that would be travelling to West Indies on July 06, 2016, for a series of two tour matches and four Test matches under the captaincy of Virat Kohli.
Given the opportunity, definitely the Karnataka youngster would grab them with both hands and make every innings of his count.
The ‘ever keen to learn’ Rahul could eventually become a long term prospect for Team India.