KL Rahul has shouldered the responsibility of lending balance to the side, with no middle-order mainstay in the side. KL Rahul has been played in the middle-order in the past due to Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan’s form at the top.
KL Rahul, who opened and skipped Kings XI Punjab was in ominous form during the Indian Premier League 2020 as he was the top-scorer in the tournament with 670 runs. But with the Indian team, he is likely to be played in the middle-order.
KL Rahul Should Bat In Middle Order At No. 5: Sanjay Manjrekar
India have now been blessed with a problem that every team wants. Several openers are knocking on the door for a place in the side. The likes of youngsters Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill are looking to get a place in the starting XI with KL Rahul also an option.
But, former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar has also advocated for KL Rahul to be played as a No.5 while giving his nod to Mayank Agarwal as an opener in Rohit Sharma’s absence.
“See, the thing is that India has a lot of depth when it comes to white-ball cricket. Rohit is almost irreplaceable but India has options. Let’s not forget, in his last four innings, Rahul scored more than 80 runs in three innings while batting in the middle order (number five) in India’s last ODI series in New Zealand.
“The credit needs to go to Rahul that he first got a hundred as an opener and then he registered scores of more than 80 while batting at number five,” Manjrekar told ANI.
Both Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul could not contribute much with the bat in the first ODI against Australia though. Mayank Agarwal hit an 18-ball 22 while KL Rahul was dismissed after scoring 12 runs off 15 balls.
KL Rahul Needs To Bat At No. 5 Because He Has Done Well There: Sanjay Manjrekar
KL Rahul has scored 808 runs as an opener in ODIs in 18 innings averaging 50.5 while scoring 303 runs averaging 60.6 in 6 innings at No. 5. He scored 3 hundreds as an opener and 1 ton at No. 5. In the 2019-20 series against New Zealand, he scored 204 runs in 3 games averaging 102.
“India’s problem in white-ball cricket for a long time now has been the number four-six slots. In the World Cup, that hurt India a lot and I feel this area needs to be addressed. That is why I feel, Rahul needs to bat at number five because he has done so well in that position and India needs a dependable middle order. Mayank Agarwal has a Test match sort of temperament and his recent form can be used by India at the top of the order,” he added.
In the 1st ODI, Australia scored 374/6 after both Aaron Finch and Steven Smith showed contrasting centuries. The Indian bowlers were pathetic apart from Mohammed Shami who picked 3 wickets. India managed 308/8 after Hardik Pandya and Shikhar Dhawan’s heroics with bat. For Australia, spinner Adam Zampa took 4 wickets while pacer Josh Hazlewood picked 3 early scalps as India were reeling at 101/4 at one stage.
Hardik Pandya playing as a specialist batsman top-scored with 90 off 76 balls while opener Shikhar Dhawan contributed with 74 off 86 balls.