RAHUL IMPACT PLAYER, THE TEAM BACKS HIM: BANGAR
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.