India vs Sri Lanka: Perks of No.5: Shower and meal
KL Rahul at No.5 is always a subject of debate. He has oscillated between opening the innings and batting at No.4 in one-dayers before being tried out at No.5 by Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid.
At Eden Gardens, it was Rahul’s 15th innings as an ODI No.5 for India. He averages 54.25 at a strike rate of 102.03, including a hundred and six fifties, in this position.
He anchored the innings on Thursday with an unbeaten 64 off 103 balls as India reached the target of 216 with 40 balls to spare. While Rahul’s game is tailormade for such anchor roles, he does find the going tough when the asking rate increases, which leads to talk on whether he is ideal for that position.
But he believes batting at No.5 has helped him understand his game better.
“One thing I really enjoy is that you don’t have to rush back into batting,” Rahul, who also kept wickets in this series, said. “You get time to put your feet up, have a nice cold shower, have a good meal and then relax and see what’s happening before walking in. That’s the good thing about batting at No.5.
“Batting at No.5 has just helped me understand my game a little bit better. Given the ball is slightly older, you have to play spin straight away and that’s not what I am used to usually. Obviously, Rohit is very clear that that’s where he wants me to bat and he’s conveyed that to me. So now I am challenging myself to get used to this position.”
Rahul said that his fluctuating batting number over the years did not lead to him feeling stressed. “First, I want to be in the playing XI, that’s the most important thing,” Rahul said. “What the team requires me to do, I try to do that. I’ve done that throughout the time I played for India.
“I remember the first Test I batted... at No. 6. Then I opened. Then I was No.6 at the 2019 World Cup. Then after an injury to Shikhar, I had to go back to open again. I’ve played at No.5, I’ve played at No.4, I’ve been asked to keep. I think it is fun for me.
“I have thrived on performing in tough conditions and under pressure. It tells me that the team trusts me and backs me.
“It has helped me understand my batting and myself better. When you decide to choose a team game as a sport or profession, you have to be ready or flexible to do whatever job you’re asked to do.”
However, with players like Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan not in the team, his every innings will be scrutinised as he needs to live up to the challenge.