RAHUL IM­PACT PLAYER, THE TEAM BACKS HIM: BANGAR

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTSPORTSMAX - Ni­lankur Das ni­lankur.das@htlive.com

HY­DER­ABAD: Be­fore In­dia left for South Africa, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vi­jay looked set as In­dia open­ers with KL Rahul as a solid backup. Ten Tests later, and into the last one be­fore the tour Down Un­der, the open­ing pair is once again a con­cern.

The youngest in the squad, Prithvi Shaw, with a cen­tury and a solid 53-ball 70 in the two Tests against West Indies at home, now looks the only opener in form. Vjay and Dhawan have been dropped and Rahul’s form looks shaky.

But ac­cord­ing to bat­ting coach San­jay Bangar, the team man­age­ment will back Rahul. “We will back play­ers who are ca­pa­ble of win­ning matches, our im­pact play­ers,” Bangar said on Satur­day. “His con­tri­bu­tions have come over­seas and his con­tri­bu­tions at home also have come in tougher times. The se­ries against Aus­tralia which prob­a­bly was the most hard fought, is a case in point.”

Rahul scored 149 against Eng­land at The Oval last month. But that knock, and a half-cen­tury against Afghanistan in the one-off Test in Bengaluru, are his only re­spectable scores in the 17 in­nings he has played this year.

He had an is­sue with the in-com­ing ball and was re­peat­edly get­ting out. On Satur­day, he played on try­ing to get his bat away from a de­liv­ery out­side off. Rahul’s av­er­age this year stands at an or­di­nary 22.7 with 387 runs in 17 out­ings. Murali Vi­jay has just one hun­dred in 11 in­nings this year, against Afghanistan in Bengaluru. His av­er­age is even lower at 21.18 with a to­tal of 233 runs. Shikhar Dhawan too has played 11 in­nings scor­ing 301 runs at an av­er­age of 27.36.

“Yes, he (Rahul) has had is­sues with balls com­ing into him; he’s work­ing on it re­ally hard. But at times, bats­men tend to think a lot about away go­ing balls and at times for­get to con­cen­trate on straighter balls or which gen­er­ally pitch on stump line. Those are things we are work­ing on,” Bangar said.

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