KL Rahul’s hundred at Sabina Park proves he is ready for a big role
24-year-old KL Rahul has emerged as one of India’s most exciting batsmen in Test cricket. The opener has proved he is ready for a big responsibility. He has notched up one hundred after another in the few opportunities he has received. On Sunday, he scored a brilliant hundred against West Indies at Sabina Park.
India’s part-time opener KL Rahul once again exploited the opportunity that was given to him as regular opener Vijay got injured just ahead of the second Test against West Indies at Sabina Park, Jamaica. On a wicket where spinners are getting a decent amount of turn and fast bowlers are getting the assistance from the pitch, Rahul scored his third career hundred. Shannon Gabriel used cutters and captain Jason Holder used the seam to bowl well. Other batsmen like Pujara and captain Virat Kohli, who scored a double-hundred in the first Test at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, was visibly not feeling comfortable against Holder.
But Rahul rose to the occasion, as he scored 158 during his 303 balls stay at the crease. Rahul’s technique, judgment to play a delivery and footwork helped him on a not so batting friendly wicket.
A great character exploits opportunity
The 24-year-old displayed his character during his first hundred at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) after a horrific performance in the first Test against Australia in Melbourne in 2014. Later against Sri Lanka, Rahul scored a hundred as Shikhar Dhawan was out of the team due to a finger injury. Rahul has played only six Test matches but he has cemented his place in the team. When Dhawan is suffering from inconsistency, Rahul’s form is a good sign for India.
Unlike the first Test of this ongoing series; At the Sabina Park batting is not an easy job. Dhawan already had thrown his wicket to Roston Chase.
Rahul also made sure that along with saving his wicket, he has to score runs quickly, so he choose the loose ball to send them to the boundary . He used sweep shot against the spinners. His footwork was commendable. Rahul’s 158 runs came to an end when he nicked a leg-stump delivery from Shanon Gabriel and was caught behind by Dowrich.
“Wicket was not the easiest”
Coming to the press conference at the end of the second day of the Test Rahul said, “the wicket was not the easiest to bat on.” Rahul gave credit to the West Indies bowlers as they improved a lot in comparison to their last match performance. Rahul said, “You probably have to give a little bit of credit to the West Indies bowlers as well. They came in with a set plan this morning, to keep it tight and not give away easy runs. They tried to bowl the fourth-fifth stump channel.”
Rahul who loves to score in singles, scored his hundred with a six off Roston Chase over the mid on to release the pressure. He hit three sixes during his innings. He also kept up the pace of the innings when batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was playing very slowly and West Indies bowlers were creating pressure from the other end. Rahul unplugged the pressure playing for boundaries and singles with ease.
After playing this innings, Rahul stated that he was looking to be confident and build on the good form that he has been for the last couple of matches. “I tried to keep things simple. I’ve been in good form for the last 3-4 months. I’ve been moving well, and hitting the ball really well.”
The Karnataka batsman also said he wants to score consistently and focus on all three formats. “I’ve been consistent and that’s what I want to do as a cricketer, to be consistent in all the three formats. I want to play to the best of my abilities and play my roles and responsibilities for the team. Right now I’m in a good space and the focus levels have been great.”
Rahul during his first innings in the Caribbean became the first Indian batsman to score a hundred on his first appearance. The previous record was held by Poly Umrigar, who scored 130 in 1952-53 West Indies series. Overall, Rahul is now the fifth Indian batsman to score a hundred in his maiden Test innings in WI.
The youngster is only the second Indian to convert his first three fifties into centuries. No doubt, Rahul’s form as an opener is not a good treat for left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan or Cheteshwar Pujara.
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