KL Rahul’s scores in this T20 World Cup were 4, 9 and 9. Two games to go, both need to win, there is a murmur of Rishabh Pant coming in to open with Rohit Sharma. To this, Rahul Dravid says an unequivocal no. He thinks Rahul is hitting ‘excellent’ and that his style of hitting is actually suited to these kinds of conditions. So there’s really no need to discuss Rahul’s future as an opener.
“I think he’s a fantastic player and he’s got a proven track record. He’s done a really good job. I thought he had excellent hitting. These things can sometimes happen in a T20 game. It’s been difficult – it hasn’t been that easy for the kind of batters of the highest order, this tournament was quite challenging,” Dravid said at the press conference a day before India’s game against Bangladesh.
Much of this confidence and confirmation comes from Rahul’s 33-ball 57 against Australia in a warm-up game in Brisbane for the World Cup. Laced with six boundaries and three sixes, Rahul looked comfortable playing the bounce and was especially keen on tapping the ball off his pads. “Maybe many of you weren’t there, but in the pre-season friendly against Australia with Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummins. It was a pretty good attack and I thought he hit great that day, to get 50 or 60,” said Dravid.
“So he actually plays really well. I just hope it all clicks for the next three or four games, and yes, we know his quality, we know his skills, and he’s really well suited to these kinds of conditions, these kinds of fields. He has a good all round game. He has a very good, strong back-foot game, which is obviously very necessary in these circumstances. ”
A sports hernia and a bout of covid-19 kept Rahul out of the game for a while, but there was never any real confusion about his place on the team.
“I think in words as well as in deeds, I think for the past year he knows he has our support. He knows that,” Dravid said. in this tournament, and we haven’t deviated from that for a very long time. Yes, because we play a lot of cricket, you might see a lot of different people playing in different situations, in different games. There are a lot of injuries, including his. He has had phases where unfortunately he got injured but in word and in action I think with all our players we have done that I think that’s the great thing about Rohit that he really showed them that confidence and that faith .”
Dravid rarely comes across as pointy, but this time he took a dive into the media for questioning Rahul’s form. “We’ve played the game enough to know that people will go through ups and downs. We also understand the nature of Indian cricket, which is there – once you get past Kohli and Kohli has scored, who’s next. Then Rahul scores runs, okay let’s look around, who’s next?
“That’s part of the job. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way; that’s just the nature of professional sports when we play this game. Actually it is not difficult for us at all because we are very clear; we are not influenced by what is said outside and by what people say.”
That conditions in Australia have prompted a batting rethink is evident from the more teams are taking their time up front. Dravid wants to give Rahul that leeway, just that extra cushion of a few balls in case the opening overs are too hostile. “We’re not worried about him. We know that when he goes to work, and I saw it against Australia a few weeks ago against a top-class attack, I know the impact this man can have. I think there is in Rohit’s and my mind there is absolutely no doubt about who will open for us.”