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The KL Rahul conundrum – Will the extended slumber cease in Australia?

Perhaps, this Australian series is the right time for him to wake up and realise his ability and get going.

KL Rahul
KL Rahul. (Photo Source: Twitter)

There is this thing about being burdened – People become attached to them sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them. Perhaps, when the mind is shrouded in self-doubts, aspersions dictate ambitions, and belief sits in a corner, splashing around for hope.

For when KL Rahul plonked the front foot forward, not entirely forward, a small step, and drove a length ball on the up, neither here, nor there, the ball was mistimed and landed with mid-off. Rahul walked off for 3, the others made merry and scored half-centuries for fun. He might still get the nod for the 1st Test match, but if the tonality of Sanjay Bangar is anything to go by, the long rope is tightening into a noose.

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What plagues him? Back in 2014, against a potent Australian attack, Rahul looked solid, temperament up there with the best in the business, no flamboyant strokes, no hitting on the up, calculated, stoic attritional Test cricket. Century at the Sydney Cricket Ground!

All the runs he had peeled off in domestic cricket were bearing fruits at the highest level, and yet, four years later, after 30 odd matches, he is still grappling to nail his spot.

Important to convert

“We know his ability and if he converts that to performances then it is important for the team. He is not a young player any more and he is on his second tour here. He has played 30 Tests and he has a responsibility. We expect him to play with that responsibility and play his role for the team,” Bangar said at the end of the day’s play against Cricket Australia XI.

KL Rahul
Lokesh Rahul of India. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

We echo similar sentiments, no one doubts the quality on offer, but the sample size and in many ways, a vindication of this quality came back in Sydney and then it was followed by the string of 9 half-centuries in 11 innings during the long home season last year.

We now need to pause for a trifle moment. Remember Wasim Jaffer, yes, the domestic giant, a gentle soul who churns out run with the ridiculous efficiency. Yes, so what about him?

The Mumbai batsman played 31 Tests for India, scoring 1944 runs at an average of 34.10, with 5 centuries and 11 half-centuries under his belt.

He was discarded after an average tour of Australia in 2008. KL Rahul has eerily similar numbers to Jaffer – in 31 matches, the Karnataka man has 1848 runs at an average of 37.71. The management wants to be patient with him, but for how long?

Perhaps, this Australian series is the right time for him to wake up and realise his ability and get going.

His problems with the incoming ball were exposed rather mercilessly in England and South Africa, the short front foot stride forces him to play at an angle which creates a gap between bat and pad. Yes, he overcame all these idiosyncrasies and scored a century at the Oval, but was back to single digit scores against the West Indies at home.

Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins – three bowlers who ransacked Australians last season and they would want to have a go a Virat Kohli with the new Kookaburra. It becomes imperative for the top order to ward off this threat and allow the captain to come in when the ball is relatively older.

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