KL Rahul is the new boss in Virat Kohli’s yard, India free from the old rut. Cricket


Soon after Rohit Sharma took over as India’s ODI captain in November 2021, he directly addressed the elephant in the room. Rohit is Rohit, doesn’t roam around here and there. Unlike his predecessor Virat Kohli, whose ’45 minutes of bad cricket’ analogy received mixed reactions after India’s exit in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals, Rohit getting straight to the point was a breath of fresh air. He had said, “I want the middle order to be ready for a 10/3 situation.” Succeeding Kohli as India captain was not easy, and for a while, Rohit had to face the challenging reality Because India struggled with setbacks, failing to reach last year’s Asia Cup final and suffering a shocking series defeat against Bangladesh. , But almost two years later, things seem to be falling into place… brick by brick.

Virat Kohli and KL Rahul’s defensive work gets India off to a great start in World Cup 2023 (PTI)

On Sunday, in just two overs of the Indian innings, scary memories of Old Trafford, Champions Trophy 2017 and T20 World Cup 2021 came alive. Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma and Shreyas Iyer were all out for a duck. This was even more disappointing than CT ’17 and WC ’19, where the top order had managed to score at least a few runs. At 2/3, the target of 200 looked as big as 270-280. In a surreal coincidence, the giant screen showed 5/3 in 3.1 overs, mirroring India’s dire position against New Zealand in Manchester four years ago. We all remember what happened at that time – the team’s failure to recover from the loss of early wickets cost India the World Cup title, a theme that set a disappointing precedent.

However, against Australia, things were set to take a different turn. That was the feeling you just got when KL Rahul joined Kohli. After keeping wickets for 50 overs in the scorching Chennai heat, KL Rahul had to don a different pair of gloves and pads in the 45 minutes he was handed the responsibility of reviving India’s innings with the chase master. And as it happened, in a brilliant display of patience and resilience, Kohli was dismissed to give India a famous win. While this Indian team generally prioritizes collective achievements over individual records, Rahul chased the century without hesitation – a fact he openly admitted after the match. His innings was an innings worth getting, even if it came at the cost of a few extra balls. He was that good.

Also read: Virat Kohli, KL Rahul produce masterclass in middle-order as India make early World Cup announcement

Over 400 runs in 7 innings at an astonishing average of 100.50. These are Rahul’s tremendous figures since his return in the Asia Cup. From being the guy people loved to pick – ask Venkatesh Prasad – to becoming India’s best No. 5 batsman, this looks like redemption in its sweetest form. Through multiple injuries, surgeries, captaincy debates and endless strike-rate conversations, Rahul has shrugged off all the noise around him. His recent scores at Nos. 4 and 5 have been the closest to Kohli’s peak – the 2016 to 2018 era – and well, on this night, Rahul outclassed his partner to present an absolute masterclass in batting.

Before all the Kohli fans draw their swords, hear me out. His innings of 85 runs was equally important. Scientists have to find out how his brain works in chasing. But in terms of sheer talent, Rahul played an unmatched innings. Apart from avoiding a dangerous top-edge scare on 12, Kohli found himself in danger on a few occasions, especially when he swung his bat towards that dangerous area just outside the off stump. Even after facing a powerful blow to the helmet from Mitchell Starc, Kohli displayed his trademark audacity by attempting to catch the fiery bowler, which was reminiscent of the attack on Jofra Archer during the IPL earlier this year . Amidst all the preachy messages and philosophical statements on Instagram, Kohli’s inner arrogance is visible. But the bigger picture was that despite the initial bouts of lack of concentration, they did not give Australia the slightest chance.

Yet, Rahul stood there, showing a level of confidence and accuracy that could rival the great Glenn McGrath in his prime. His powerful cover drive and deliberate strategy to take on Adam Zampa marked the moment when Australia’s last ray of hope began to fade. Zampa, the only specialist spinner in Australia’s line-up and always a thorn in India’s side with his 34 wickets in 22 ODIs, found himself humbled as Rahul unleashed a series of brilliant late cuts. One special moment stood out among the numerous drives by Rahul against Australia’s fast bowlers. It was no power-packed stroke, but a delicate defensive push that evaded Mitchell Starc and a diving long-on fielder before reaching the boundary. This shot summed up Rahul’s innings – full of class and brilliance.

Throughout Rahul’s career, there have been moments when he disappointed, tested fans’ patience and even became borderline boring – for example, his performance against Hong Kong during last year’s Asia Cup. Remember. But the current version of Rahul is nothing short of a revelation, reminiscent of his most unbridled, almost uninhibited self of 2018. That era was a golden phase in Rahul’s career, where he emerged as an electrifying opening batsman. But still, some of his most exciting innings came from No. 4. He scored 101 against England in Manchester, and played a heart-breaking 110 against West Indies at Lauderhill – the game where MS Dhoni failed to score 2 runs on the last ball. There too Rahul was sitting on his knees… but in a completely different way.


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