Indian batsman KL Rahul has faced renewed criticism after being included in the starting XI in Friday’s second Test against Australia in Delhi. Rohit Sharma’s decision to once again pick the out-of-form KL Rahul ahead of young Shubman Gill, who has had a purple spot of late, did not go down well with Indian cricket fans.
While some Indian fans not only lashed out at KL Rahul for burdening the team with his mediocre performances, others lashed out at Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid – calling them spineless for not dropping the Karnataka batsman in the team’s interest had left.
Some even went so far as to say that the contest at Arun Jaitley Stadium in the state capital, KL, was supposed to be Rahul’s last chance for redemption and team management should drop him if he failed to make a big score on the board at National Capital.
On the flip side, several netizens posted hilarious memes to poke fun at KL Rahul and mock his inconsistency on the field.
Meanwhile, some were utterly disappointed to find him in the XI considering Indian team could have featured Shubman Gill at the top of the order and Suryakumar Yadav in 5th place. In either case, KL Rahul would not have made the starting XI.
KL Rahul’s place in India’s all-format squad has been under fire for some time due to a string of poor results.
KL Rahul suffered another failure in the first Test in Nagpur, which the Rohit Sharma-led side won by a margin of one attachment and 132 runs.
During his brief stint in the crease, KL Rahul looked prudent down center, with his conservative approach leading to his downfall when Australian debutant Todd Murphy had him caught and rolled for a 20 score.
This was KL Rahul’s fifth consecutive result with less than 25 points after their four defeats by Bangladesh in December. In two friendlies in Bangladesh, KL Rahul managed to score 22, 23, 10 and 2 points.
After watching his pathetic batting show at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium last week, former Indian pacer Venkatesh Prasad ripped into KL Rahul, even blaming Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid and the national selectors for shielding the vice-captain’s place in the team.
“And to make matters worse, Rahul is the designated vice-captain. Ashwin has great cricket brains should be vice-captain in Test format. If not, he should be Pujara or Jadeja. Mayank Agarwal was a far better influence than Rahul in tests, as was Vihari,” added the former Indian bowling coach.
“Rahul’s selection is not based on merit, but on favoritism. Has been inconsistent throughout and failed to convert potential into performance for someone who has been around for 8 years,” continued Venkatesh Prasad.
“One of the reasons many ex-cricketers are not vocal despite seeing such favoritism is the likelihood of missing potential IPL appearances. You wouldn’t want to rub a franchisee’s captain wrong, as in this day and age most people like yes men and blind approvers. Often well-wishers are your best critics but times have changed and people don’t want to tell the truth,” Venkatesh Prasad wrote in another tweet.
Venkatesh Prasad’s sharp attack on KL Rahul came at a time when the in-form Shubman Gill was sidelined as the former was favored as the opening game over the latter for the first two friendly matches in Nagpur and Delhi.
Earlier this month, Shubman Gill became the youngest male player to score hundreds in all three forms of cricket at 23 years and 146 days.
He also joined a select group of Indian players who have earned hundreds in all formats. Before him, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and KL Rahul were the only Indians to reach this milestone.
In January, Shubman Gill matched Babar Azam’s record for most runs in a three-game ODI series.
With scores of 208, 40 and 112, the 23-year-old cricketer netted 360 runs in three games against Tom Latham’s side, putting him level with Babar Azam.
Previously, Shubman Gill became the youngest player to break double hundred at One-Day Internationals (ODIs).
Before him, the record was held by Ishan Kishan, who hit a double century last month at the age of 24 years and 145 days against Bangladesh.
He is the fifth Indian to reach this milestone after Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan.
Shubman Gill with his hundred at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium made it to the milestone in 19 games while both Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan needed 24 games to get there.
Gill also scored his first Test hundred against Bangladesh in December.
“KL Rahul is an odd case because over the past 5 years I’ve noticed that he scores a hundred points and instantly falls out of shape. Have you seen a batter like that?” Sanjay Manjrekar told Star Sports.
“He reached a hundred and fifty in South Africa and averaged 15 in the next 5 friendlies for India. This is a guy who has played 45 friendlies and averaged 34,” added Sanjay Manjrekar.
“Shubman Gill is waiting in the wings. Sure, there’s a strong case for having KL Rahul’s class on the team, but there’s also a case for playing someone who’s in shape,” he mused.
“Someone who has played 45 Tests and is still averaging 34, that tells a story,” concluded the former Indian batter.