Having watched cricket all my life, I find no reasons to follow the game religiously the way I used to. Too much cricket, watched enough for an entire lifetime already; no longer part of a news set-up so no need to follow the game; players of today’s generation are not like a Rahul Dravid or a Sachin Tendulkar.
But along comes a player every now and then, who makes you want him to do well, makes you switch off the TV set once he gets out, makes you spend hours watching the game you thought you had fallen out with.
Kannaur Lokesh Rahul’s batting and the way he carries himself makes you do just that. The technique and time he has while playing against the fast bowlers, the innovation he has added to his batting while playing the shorter format of the game, his ground fielding and wicket keeping ability has all added to his charisma. His Test average of only 25.69 may not do justice to Rahul’s immense batting talent, but he showed enough class and poise while scoring his first Test hundred in just the second Test match of his life.
He returns from Zimbabwe as India’s best batsman with scores of 100, 33, 63, 0, 47, 22 in the ODIs and T20s. And in all likelihood could retain his Team India place in the limited overs game.
Most deserving youngster to make the grade
You also take heart from the fact that his selection to the Test squad was not because of any fluke performance in the IPL, though he did have a decent IPL season playing for Pune Sunrisers in 2014. His selection was mainly due to some outstanding batting in the domestic circuit.
In the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy, the Karnataka batsman topped the batting charts for his side by scoring more than 1000 runs and was also declared the Man of the Match in the final. Rahul played a big part in winning the Ranji Trophy title that season for Karnataka. He didn’t stop there. In the Duleep Trophy final the same year playing for South Zone against the Central Zone, Rahul scored centuries in both the innings – 185 off 233 in the first and 130 off 152 in the second. No selection committee could have ignored such sheer numbers so he got to make his Test debut at the age of 22.
Domestic performances getting rewarded will go a long way in motivating aspiring cricketers and giving life to the neglected Ranji Trophy.
After coming back from the Australian tour, Rahul went onto score a historic triple century (337), the first Karnataka batsman to achieve the feat in Ranji Trophy. His feat was later replicated by teammate Karun Nair, who scored 328 against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy final next year.
The Making of KL Rahul
Rahul has gone for a complete makeover. And I’m not talking about his long hair and beard look. Not so long back he was dismissed as a Test specialist only but success in the IPL this year and now a century on ODI debut against Zimbabwe (the first Indian to do so) has added a new dimension to India’s batting.
His IPL success and love for tattoos (he now sports seven tattoos) have added to his fan following. And tweets like these are making new fans join the ranks each day –
@rahulkl“My body is my journal ,and My tattoos are my story “
Not only cricket, Rahul is a sports fan
Rahul played other sports while growing up and he has kept the interest going as you can clearly see from his tweeted pictures.
No doubt he has all the credentials to be a crowd puller off the field, like his Test and IPL captain Virat Kohli. And now with a century on his one-day international debut – there’s no stopping this young man from Karnataka. No doubt he will have to show consistency, curb his strokes at beginning of an innings. But with age on his side and the ability to adapt to all three formats, it will be well worth watching Rahul’s cricketing journey.
By Rajesh Sahu
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