Just a few weeks after losing his spot in the Indian Test team amid the rising criticism and the vice-captaincy role, KL Rahul bounced back in top-class fashion to score a fighting half-century en route to his unbeaten 75 off 91 deliveries to help India beat Australia in the first ODI match at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar was mighty impressed with Rahul’s knock and hailed the India batter before making a stunning comparison between Virat Kohli and him.
In response to Australia’s total of 188, their lowest batting first in an ODI game against India, the hosts lost four wickets in the first 11 overs. Stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya looked to provide Rahul with some assistance, but he too departed for a score of just 25 off 31. India however found a stable and match-winning partnership between Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, who stitched an unbeaten 108-run stand as the team wrapped up the game with 61 balls to spare.
Speaking to Star Sports after the match, Gavaskar explained that like Kohli, there was no technical fault in Rahul’s game as he struggled through those Test matches last month, but instead had run out of luck. However, the batting legend did add that the sole difference between the two were their body language.
“We said earlier as well that he has the technique and temperament but sometimes you need luck as well. Just like Virat Kohli, he was getting out to his first mistake, but his body language didn’t use to be like Virat Kohli’s. Virat Kohli used to get out but still his body language was different, he was confident. You could not have said the same thing about Rahul. But the way he batted today, he repaid the team management for the faith shown in him. He stayed till the end, it was not that he could do anything as he had scored a fifty,” he said.
Former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar credited Rahul’s versatility in the batting line-up for his ability to bounce back and added that he has made a strong case for himself for the 2023 ODI World Cup.
“Whoever bats at multiple positions, it becomes a strong point for them. He has been exposed to different-different situations. I feel it was a huge advantage that India had a player at No. 5 who could play well down the order and against the new ball as well,” he said. “If you have a top-order collapse, which has happened in a few important games, you have a player who can see off the new ball and then can score runs all around the park. There is no area where he cannot play a shot. He has presented an extremely strong case for himself.”