KL Rahul's 29th: Perfect year to peak!
Hopefully, the kid who broke into the team on the back of winning the Ranji Trophy and the Duleep Trophy would be peaking at the right time by winning many of the marquee tournaments for the country
It was said that the Mayan Calendar predicted the world to end in 2012, however, 2012 turned out to be easy on the world in general. But 2012 wasn’t easy for the Indian Cricket Team for sure as they ended the year with a humiliating test series defeat on their own soil at the hands of England. This defeat ensured that things were going to change in the team and it started with a change in one of the most stable opening pairs for India, the Sehwag-Gambhir era was about to end.
India desperately started to look for other combinations, Murali Vijay became a mainstay, Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara were also tried, along with occasional chances to Gautham Gambhir. In the period of 3 years that followed the 2012 loss to England, India came out triumphant in the home series against Australia and West Indies, but ended up losing overseas cycle on trot against South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia.
Meanwhile, there was a guy called KL Rahul, opening the innings for Karnataka in the domestic circuit. In the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy he ended up making 1033 runs and made a fine century in the finals helping Karnataka win. Next up, he was playing for South Zone in finals of Duleep trophy, made 185 & 130 in both the innings and took his team to the victory. A national call would feel obvious at this point, and there he gets it as his name is announced for the India Tour of Australia 2014-15.
KL Rahul got the test cap number 284, from the hands of the then Indian Captain, MS Dhoni in the 3rd test of the series. Coincidentally, it turned out to be the last test match of MS Dhoni. Rahul got to play at number six and number three in the test and the debut turned out to be horrific as he got out for scores of just three and one.
In the 4th test of the series, the new Indian Captain, Virat Kohli, sent Rahul to open the innings in Sydney and boy, this 22 year old turned up with a century in his first ever test match as an opener scoring 110 at Sydney. When asked by the press, if he feels proud of his innings, he said that he feels more relieved than proud. By the end of India’s home cycle in 2017, KL Rahul was averaging around 45 with 4 centuries and 10 half centuries. It looked like India had found a stable choice of opener. And then the overseas cycle started.
Meanwhile back in 2016, wearing a red Royal Challengers Bangalore jersey, Rahul was adding another dimension to his game. It was here that he was transforming himself from white uniform to white ball player. He added 397 runs for RCB, averaging 44 at a strike rate of 146. It was a surprising season as he was just believed to be a pure test batsman till that point. The season was followed by white ball debut. Just like his first test as an opener, he started his ODI career with a century against Zimbabwe. KL Rahul ended 2016 with a T20I century against West Indies, thereby becoming the fastest cricketer to score centuries in all three formats of the game.
While playing the Border Gavaskar Trophy in 2017, Rahul sustained a shoulder injury. He continued to play the series where he scored 393 runs at an average of 65. However, quickly after the series, he sustained a shoulder injury which resulted in him missing IPL 2017, which checked his rise as a white ball cricketer.
His career since 2018 can largely be viewed as two parts. A horrific run of overseas test series in South Africa, England, Australia, West Indies on one side and T20 century in England, couple of centuries in the 2019 World Cup, T20 Man of the series against New Zealand on the other side. Virat Kohli and the team management backed him through his string of low scores in tests whereas Rahul supported the team's cause in white ball by adapting to any position that the team needed him at - from opening to all the way till number five. All through this period of 2018-2020, Rahul also established himself as one of the top notch batman in IPL, where he also went on to become the captain of his franchise Kings XI Punjab. Having led the Indian team against New Zealand and after being named as a vice captain in the absence of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul today stands as the front runner as the next captain of India in the white ball cricket.
The promising 22 year old who scored a Sydney century in 2014 is now 29 year old in 2021. In the next 2 years, India has multiple milestone tournaments like the World Test Championship, test series in England, World T20 India, test Series against South Africa, T20 World Cup Australia and ODI World Cup
Hopefully, the kid who broke into the team on the back of winning the Ranji Trophy and the Duleep Trophy would be peaking at the right time by winning many of these marquee tournaments for the country.
Happy Birthday KL Rahul.