Even before a ball could be bowled in the one off Test between India and Bangladesh, the buzz was about Ajinkya Rahane’s return and Karun Nair’s omission from the Test team. While Nair had scored an unbeaten triple century (303*) in his last Test innings, it was argued by both coach, Anil Kumble and captain, Virat Kohli that Rahane’s stellar work in the last two years had not been forgotten.
While it is extremely unfortunate for Nair to be left out, he has taken it bravely, on the chin, so to speak. The 25 year old Karnataka batsman has a deep respect for Ajinkya Rahane, and has gone on to admit that if he was in charge of selections, he too would’ve picked Rahane. While not undermining his triple hundred, he did feel that Rahane was a proven performer across all conditions. “I’m lucky to have got a chance because of his (Rahane’s) injury but now that he is fit, I’m glad to see him return to the side. He is a match winner and even though I scored a match winning triple century, I do not have a body of work as vast as his…once it is comparable, it will be easier to look at selections in a more objective manner”
All things aside, how much does one have to score to seal a spot in this Indian team? Karun Nair feels that even 300 is not enough. “As you know, triple hundreds are quite common these days, especially in home conditions against indifferent bowling attacks. The real Test will be for me to show my stamina, I will try and score 400 next time”
When asked if he thought that 400 would seal his spot, he answered in the negative, “No…I don’t think so, even if I score 400, and if Rohit Sharma is fit and available for selection in the next match, he should be picked before me. Rohit is much more senior and a proven match winner across formats. Also I don’t think I can compare myself to his talent and potential. Captain has great regard for him too. He is set to do big things for the country in the Test arena”
When Karun Nair will play for the country is anybody’s guess but this is not dampening the middle order batsman’s spirits who feels that just spending time in the dressing room with seniors like Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane is a blessing in disguise for him – “every day I learn something new, there is a great atmosphere in the dressing room. Something that no amount of time in the middle can teach you. Right now I am focused on carefully observing the seniors and picking a trick or two on how to handle myself spending long hours on the bench”
When asked if India’s other triple centurion, Virender Sehwag, had spoken to him, he said, “yes, on Twitter. He made fun of me. But that is Viru Bhai. He’s an original and it is a privilege to be mocked by him. I’m really looking forward to be made fun of by him when I make 400 runs. I can almost anticipate him tweeting that he will have to come out of retirement to keep me company and returning my favour of keeping him company in the 300 Indians’ club”.
However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction.
When you do a search for Rohit Sharma on ESPN cricinfo, as many as six options crop up. Not just that, there are two RG Sharmas as well. The one we’re looking for though is born in 1987. Soon to be 30 years old this year. When did that happen?
Rohit made his Test debut in November, 2013, since then he has plated 21 Tests. By now it is well documented that he started off with a century on Test debut, followed by another in his second innings. There hasn’t been another since.
KL Rahul has already played 12 Tests. He too got off the blocks fast, with a century in only his second Test. So far he has four centuries. While Rohit’s Test average is 37, Rahul’s is a shade over 40. Much like his senior, Rahul comes with much promise and potential. Much like Rohit, Rahul’s batsmanship is very pleasing to the eye. And daresay, much like Roht, Rahul could be India’s next big thing – in ODIs and T20s.
The similarities don’t stop there. Already in his short career, Rahul has shown that he can be very susceptible to injuries. Both batsmen have a huge fanboy in the Indian captain.
Both batsmen have the ability to go up, over the top, out of the ground. They’re the type of batsmen that fill grounds with people, with a buzz. They’re also the type of batsmen, that very rarely make exceptional Test batsmen but always make the selectors punt on them – forever making their backers live in that eternally optimistic state of “what if?”
Come 2017, both batsmen will be expected to make the IPL great again.
It’s very early to say that KL Rahul will not make an exceptional Test batsman but as an opener he has 8 single digit scores in 19 innings. Rohit has 14 single digit scores in 36 innings. Their Test dismissals often appear soft, and can leave you more often than not baffled. Just as their sixes that resemble shooting stars.
While a still recuperating Rohit will not play the Bangladesh Test, KL Rahul will open the innings. Whether opening is the best position for him is debatable. Squeezing him in the middle order is next to impossible. While India has sometimes sacrificed a fifth bowler and either dropped or made Cheteshwar Pujara open the batting to accommodate Rohit Sharma, it remains to what extent India will go with KL Rahul.
Right now however, he is the chosen one of Indian cricket. And will continue to be so for a while. It’s an onus that doesn’t sit easy on the best of batsmen. KL Rahul will do well to speak with Rohit, who knows, it could be a chat that ends up helping both batsmen. After all, it takes one to know one.
First day, first over, after leaving two balls outside off, KL Rahul opts for the cover drive, plays on and is dismissed for his 9th single digit score.