RAJKOT: On a placid track at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Prithvi Shaw grabbed all the attention with a century on debut. However, his senior opening partner KL Rahul did not even trouble the scorers, caught plumb in front by a Shannon Gabriel in-ducker.
The ball that comes in has been Rahul’s Achilles heel for some time. He has been out bowled or LBW in each of his last eight Test innings. For an opening batsman, this is a serious folly and what’s worse for him is it is gradually becoming a pattern. Even his decision making has raised eyebrows, especially his DRS calls. In the recent Asia Cup also he had gone for a referral which looked needless.
With a century in the last innings in England, Rahul had managed to outlast Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan. But his scores had hardly been flattering despite the clamour for him to be included as first-choice opener. He was constantly troubled by in-swingers and his indecisiveness was quickly pounced upon by the English pacers.
Another troubling statistic about Rahul is his contribution when it matters. He has five hundreds to his name but three of them came in games with no impact on the series scoreline — his maiden Test century against Australia, the 199 in Chennai against a hapless English attack and then the one at the Oval where England were 3-1 up.
Rahul is no more a novice at this level. With 29 Tests under his belt, it is time for him to assume extra responsibility and start scoring hundreds in matches that have an impact on the series. And it’s also time to correct it if any technical deficiency has crept into his game. Perhaps, the team management can have a chat with Rahul about how to handle pressure. The opening merry-go-round has not helped but the sooner he is made aware of his place in the scheme of things, the easier it will be for him to get his confidence back.
Rahul has been out for zero in the opening match of series against England, Sri Lanka and now West Indies. He has only one fifty-plus in his last 13 innings as opener. With Mayank Agarwal waiting in the wings, and Murali Vijay back after a strong showing with Essex, its time Rahul finds a solution. Or it might be him who has to sit out next.
Holder out injured
West Indies were dealt a major blow when captain Jason Holder was ruled out of the first Test due to an ankle injury. Fielding coach Nic Pothas revealed Holder picked up the injury in the third week of September, when he was in Dubai. “Jason felt something in Dubai in our pre-season camp. Obviously, it has not settled down as much as he or the medical staff would like. He will be monitored on a daily basis.”