KL Rahul’s inclusion in Test squad: The Indian selectors’ decision of persisting with the opening batsman in the Test team is questionable.
2, 44, 2, 0 and 9 were India opening batsman Lokesh Rahul’s score in the last Test series India played. During the warm-up match before the Test series in Australia, batting coach Sanjay Bangar had opined regarding Rahul finding new ways to get out.
Rahul’s knack of getting out cheaply continued throughout the Test series as he scored 57 runs in three Test matches at a paltry average of 11.40 and a strike rate of 55.88. The right-hand batsman was even dropped for the third Test at Melbourne.
Not that the series in Australia was the only time when Rahul faltered in Test matches of late. Since Sri Lanka’s tour of India in November 2017, Rahul has scored 563 runs in 15 Tests at an average of 22.52 and a strike rate of 60.02 including a century and a couple of half-centuries.
Since the start of 2018, his 468 runs have come at a near-identical average and strike rate of 22.28 and 59.01 respectively. Not including his century in England and half-century against Afghanistan, Rahul’s 265 runs have come at a dismal average of 13.94.
Citing the aforementioned numbers, a player should be dropped and asked to score heavily in the domestic cricket in the general run of things. However, the Indian selectors have chose to persist with Rahul as they have given him another opportunity in the form of two-match series in West Indies.
KL Rahul’s inclusion in Test squad
What seemed to have worked for Rahul is his form in the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. While picking a player in the Test team on the basis of his ODI form is nowhere justified, the Indian selectors have already done that. In nine ODIs in the showpiece event, Rahul had scored 361 runs at an average of 45.12 and a strike rate of 77.46 including a century and two half-centuries.
India’s squad for 2 Tests: Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, C Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (WK) Wriddhiman Saha (WK), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav
— BCCI (@BCCI) July 21, 2019
Few might argue that Rahul had scored a couple of half-centuries against England Lions in February earlier this year to prove his form in cricket’s ancestral format but scoring a couple of half-centuries doesn’t seem enough to deserve Test spot.
In the same series against Lions, the likes of Priyank Panchal (206), Abhimanyu Easwaran (117) and Srikar Bharat (142) scored a century each. Both Panchal and Easwaran are opening batsmen and have scored heavily in the domestic cricket in the last two years. With the selectors not giving any one of them a maiden call-up, it raises question marks on the performances in the domestic circuit.