In the cutthroat world of professional sport, there’s no room for sentiment. KL Rahul must have felt that the world was against him after another round of failure in the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
To add salt to his wounds, the national selectors even decided to remove him from the vice-captaincy.
In 47 Tests, Rahul averages 33.44, and since the start of 2018, the figure is 25.82 in 48 innings. Since hitting the last of his seven centuries in Centurion (123) in December 2021, he has scores of 23, 50, 8, 12, 10, 22, 23, 10, 2, 20, 17, 1.
Calls to replace him with the in-form Shubman Gill have been growing with each failure. Amid the intense scrutiny, there is immense pressure, especially on social media, to drop him.
Former India pacer Venkatesh Prasad has been among his fiercest critics. However, it is unlikely that Rahul will be benched in the third Test in Indore, beginning on March 1. The Indian team management comprising captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid reiterated their support for the opener after the Kotla Test.
Rohit’s enviable record in England — he had significant centuries at The Oval (149 in September 2018) and Lord’s (129 in August 2021) in his previous two tours — may even guarantee him a place in the World Test Championship final at The Oval, which India look destined to play. Things could have been vastly different had India lost the Kotla Test.
“Of late there has been a lot of talk about his batting, but for us as the team management, we always look at the potential of any individual, not just KL,” skipper Rohit, who experienced a similar phase in his formative years after bursting into the Test squad with two centuries, said. “If the guy has potential, he will get that extended run.”
In the absence of a chief selector, the team management’s word will count. Rahul will be given the time he needs to strike form since he remains in their WTC plans.