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Rahul Is 'A Delight To See'

December 27, 2023 09:04 IST
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'He has made batting look easy.'
'When you look at his footwork and the balance, it was pretty amazing.'

KL Rahul

IMAGE: The lively Centurion track tested K L Rahul's resilience. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

The opening day at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Tuesday, December 26, 2023, witnessed a division of attention between Kagiso Rabada's exceptional performance for South Africa, marked by his 14th five-wicket haul and dismissals of crucial Indian players like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, and K L Rahul's heroic contribution for India.

In the face of Rabada's brilliance, Rahul led a solitary fightback with an unbeaten 70, guiding India to a total of 208 for eight by stumps.

Rahul's role in the Indian Test set-up underwent a notable transformation due to Yashasvi Jaiswal's success as an opener on the West Indies tour.

KL Rahul

IMAGE: Rahul's gritty half-century kept India in the hunt on Day 1 of the opening Test against South Africa at Centurion. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

Initially the second wicket-keeping option behind Ishan Kishan, Rahul found himself in the playing XI after Kishan withdrew from the series for personal reasons. To further adjust, Rahul had to depart from his usual opening position and bat at No. 6.

Challenges on the lively Centurion track tested Rahul's resilience after India lost their top three batters early. However, returning to Test cricket, Rahul showcased his class against swing deliveries, forming an 84-run partnership with the lower order, taking India to 208/8 before rain halted play.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar expressed joy at Rahul's stellar performance, deeming it the version of Rahul that cricket enthusiasts had long anticipated.

'We've known about his talent for such a long time, but we are getting to see it in the last eight, nine months, ever since he's come back from this horrific injury that he had in the IPL, it's a different Rahul,' Gavaskar noted on Star Sports.

'It's a Rahul that we have been yearning to see for such a long time and such a delight to see. This half century to me is as good as a century,' Gavaskar added.

'When you're out of the game for such a long time, the game that you love, the game that has given you everything, almost everything, you tend to get a different perspective, and that's precisely what he seems to have done. And now, instead of looking at it as a chore, I think he's looking at it as a sport and to be enjoyed.'

'There's so much positivity about his every movement. Earlier on, he used to seem a little bit lost. He's not lost now. He's there, very much there. And that tells you the way he's approaching batting -- that century at the Asia Cup, that first game, was a very good century. You could say lucky that Shreyas Iyer hurt his back and so he got an opportunity to get into the XI. But that's what you need in life.'

'You need a bit of luck, but then you need to grab that with both hands. And that's what he's done. And now he's made himself undroppable in all three formats'.

KL Rahul

IMAGE: Rahul remained unbeaten on 70 as rain forced early stumps on Day 1 of the first Test. Photograph: Esa Alexander/Reuters

Former head coach Ravi Shastri lauded Rahul's comfort on the challenging Centurion track, praising his footwork and balance.

'He has made batting look easy. When you look at his footwork and the balance, it was pretty amazing. The knock also shows that the number is right for him in Test match cricket,' Shastri observed. 'I think he will get a lot of runs for India in the middle order.'

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