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KL Rahul, a special player

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KL_Rahul_India_cricketWhen KL Rahul made his debut, it was at a very special time. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had just shared an impressive partnership at the MCG. It was a Boxing Day Test, the crowd was in its full glory, the house was almost full, and the stage was all set for Rahul to make an impressive first impression after Lyon got Rahane leg before.

But dream beginnings are not meant to be for everyone. He played a few rash shots and top edged a dolly to Hazlewood trying to sweep Lyon. He had only managed to face 8 deliveries, and his next innings was the same. He only managed to stay for 5 deliveries before top-edging a bouncer from Johnson and giving Watson an easy catch. He only managed to score a measly four runs in his first Test. It was a debut that Rahul would have wanted to forget as soon as possible.

The next match in Sydney was a test of character for Rahul, a test of temperament, and a chance to prove himself at the top level and an opportunity to show his skill.

Come the SCG, KL Rahul stood tall and showed the world what he was made of. He stood strong and scored his maiden Test century. It was a gritty knock. It was filled with patience and perseverance and with the will to stay there at the crease no matter what. This came in partnership with Virat Kohli, the newly appointed captain of team India in Tests.

Getting a hundred in only his second Test, after such a pathetic debut, against Australia in Australia is truly the epitome of a special player.

 

As of now, Rahul’s Test record is not one to boast about, but the sample size is too small to judge him based on his numbers. He has played only five Test matches, ten innings, scored 256 runs at an average barely above 25, but what’s worth considering is the number of hundreds he has scored. It is astonishing that he has scored two Test hundreds already in only five Tests. Moreover, his hundreds came in vital situations while opening, facing the new ball.

His numbers are going to improve with time. Not many Test players start their career with an average of 40 or 50, and it takes time to improve on that. It should also be kept in mind that he is yet to play a Test match in India on home soil, as playing all five matches on tour can be very exhausting. All credit to Rahul for the way he has carried himself in Tests till now, and there is surely still room for improvement.

And Rahul has only improved since then. He has had a dream season in the IPL with RCB in 2016. He scored 397 runs at a healthy average of 44 and a strike rate of 146-147. These numbers do not impress me as much as the fact that he emerged from the shadows of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Shane Watson. These are world class players, and it takes something special to stand out among these giant superstars of the game but stand out he did. Rahul is said to be more of a red ball player but his recent performances in the IPL and limited overs cricket have put those mutterings to rest.

Recently, KL Rahul made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe and became the first Indian player to score a hundred on ODI debut. Special players are just meant to do special things on special occasions and Rahul is one of them. While a hundred on debut is something to applaud him for, what made me applaud him was the patience, grit, perseverance and character with which he played the knock. The target set by Zimbabwe was only around the 170 run mark but this was a second string Indian team with not much experience around except for MS Dhoni. Rahul played the mature knock of an experienced batsman, and that too on a tricky track.

The things which make Rahul special are his strong character, patience, game awareness and the never-give-up attitude. His technique has very few flaws. And that is why I call him a special player.

 

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