What is destiny? Ask KL Rahul.
The Karnataka batter wasn’t even sure if he will get a match in the 5-Match Test series against England. However, thanks to the conditions, which obviously were not so good for his Karnataka-mate Mayank Agarwal, that Rahul not only featured in the opening Test but made a case for himself by playing a whirlwind knock in the most extreme conditions of England.
Shubman Gill, who was earlier ruled out of the entire tour returned to India and now management was left with the duo of Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma – the deadly duo one can reckon.
However, things took a massive turn a day ahead of the opening Test when Agarwal was hit by a short delivery from Mohammed Siraj in the nets, and he was ruled out of the match with a concussion soon after.
As a replacement, team India roped in KL Rahul as Agarwal’s replacement at the top of the order alongside Rohit Sharma. The 29-year old, meanwhile didn’t let his team down and made the opportunity count.
Rahul, who smashed an excellent ton in the warm-up game against the County XI ahead of the series wasn’t even sure if he would be able to make it to the playing XI but as they say – “whatever happens happens for good”, KL not only got a place in the playing XI but also proved himself against the quality bowling attack.
However, there are things that we need to analyse in the his batting technique in order to differentiate between KL Rahul Version 2018 and KL Rahul Version 2021.
1. KL Rahul Absolutely Confident About Where His Off Stump Was
The biggest challenge for Rahul and Rohit – the duo which is expected to open in the upcoming T20 World Cup as well, was to remain patient with the bat. Precocity won’t take you anywhere in the longest format of the game. Want to know what patience is? Ask Murali Vijay. Recall the 2014 England tour, when M Vijay wreaked absolute havoc at Nottingham and Lord’s.
In the first two Tests of the 2014 England tour, played at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, Vijay left 122 (first innings) and 101 (second innings) deliveries respectively [Stats by ESPNCricinfo]. Vijay scored 146 in the first innings in Nottingham and went on to score 95 at Lord’s where India went 1-0 up having drawn the first Test.
If you would have watched M Vijay batting at Nottingham in 2014, you can clearly see the glimpses of him in KL Rahul when he was batting at the same venue two days ago.
But here comes the question, how did he do that? The answer is clear – KL Rahul of 2021 was well aware of where his off-stump was unlike KL Rahul of 2018, who barely had an idea of his off stump.
Having a good idea of off-stump helps the batter pick the right deliveries to play and this is one of the primary reason why KL did well against the potent English attack.
2. Narrowed Down The Wide Stance
It took us not even an hour to notice how Rahul has narrowed down the wide stance he had in 2018.
The narrow stances make your backward movement smooth and allow you to play the shots carefully, something that KL did during his knock. He was assessing the ball quickly, which allowed him to decide whether to leave the ball or play it.
Along with that, the 29-year old also straightened and shortened his backlift, which allowed him to take on the ball quickly. These changes are undoubtedly difficult to notice but helped Rahul in understanding the ball’s line, length and direction.
3. Change in the Defensive Technique
KL Rahul has also used a rare technique in the first Test at Nottingham, that is, he kept his bat beside the pad and in the line of the off stump, which eventually helped him as he was getting a lot more time read the ball.
Rahul Dravid, widely known as ‘the Wall’ in cricket World even used the same technique back in the 2002 England tour and it helped him to stay in the middle for a long time.
Thanks to all the improvement, the 29-year old managed to score 84 runs after facing 214 deliveries in the first innings, which is also the highest score by an Indian batsman in the first inning of the opening Test against England.
The chance might have come on the back of some unfortunate incidents and circumstances for his friend and team-mate, but Rahul has so far proven that he is here to stay.