'It takes courage and guts' - Aakash Chopra defends KL Rahul for his 56-ball 51 against South Africa
"Rahul batted really well, in my opinion: respected the conditions and the situation and played accordingly", Aakash Chopra stated.
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India beat South Africa in the first T20I match at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. It was a phenomenal performance from the bowlers, especially pacers, to restrict opponents to just 106/8 in 20 overs while bowling first. Then KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav scored unbeaten half-centuries to guide India to a big eight-wicket win with 20 balls remaining.
There were a lot of positives to take from the first match, most important among them was the performance from the pacers in the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. Thiruvananthapuram's pitch proved quick and green, which helped Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar to strike early. South African pace bowlers also dominated the powerplay overs and dismissed star batters Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early.
People are just blasting Rahul for his knock, I can't understand why: Aakash Chopra
Rahul also struggled for big shots in early overs but stood firm against the Proteas pace attack. He totally defended Kagiso Rabada's first over for a maiden and was careful with his shot selection. He went on to score unbeaten 51 runs off 56 balls at a strike rate of 91.07 with only six boundaries. India won the match easily, but fans were fuming at Rahul's slow innings and criticized the opener on social media.
But former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has come to defend the player and pointed out the difficult conditions. He even praised Rahul for respecting the pitch and playing accordingly and asked fans to cut some slack for the player.
"People are just blasting Rahul for his knock, I can't understand why. If you are chasing only 107, and the conditions are difficult, why will the batter look to hit? It is okay to score ugly runs as well, it takes courage and guts," Aakash Chopra said on his YouTube channel.
"Had he decided to start striking the ball and got out instead of settling, then that would have been irresponsible. He batted really well, in my opinion: respected the conditions and the situation and played accordingly. So please cut him some slack," Aakash Chopra added.