Australia vs India, first Test: KL Rahul must be dropped if he fails in the second innings
After two days of riveting Test cricket with many ebbs and flows, the Adelaide Test between India and Australia is nicely poised, though India can be considered favourites at this point. India’s position could have been much better if most of its top order had shown more patience and application, like Cheteshwar Pujara.
Though four of the top five failed, one player who must be singled out for his indiscretion is KL Rahul. His wicket started the collapse at the top of the order. It is probably wrong to say that he ‘threw away’ his wicket. Because, unlike someone like Kohli or Rahane who wanted to play an aggressive game as per plan and tried to take the game to the Australian bowlers, Rahul’s decision to play an aggressive shot was more out of desperation.
He has tried defence and failed, as was the case during the West Indies series in India. He has tried to hit his way into form and failed there too. Scoring a century in the final Test against England when the series was already gone, and the fact that he has the backing of the captain and the coach, have ensured that he has held on to his position at the top of the order.
He is going through an extended lean patch. And it may even be argued that most other players would have failed to get as many chances as he has got, despite the lack of performance in the Test format.
His technique, especially against fast incoming balls has always been suspect. Now, as India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar has pointed out, he is finding new ways of getting himself out. He is low on confidence and as a result, unable to make the correct decisions as a batsman.
There is no harm in backing a talented player. But, one should also realize that there are some other players like Mayank Agarwal in the pipeline, and it is unfair to sideline them to give chance after chance to a player who is clearly struggling with form and focus.
He has already got many more chances than a player ordinarily gets to prove himself. If he fails again in the second innings of the Adelaide Test, he must be dropped. Even if Prithvi Shaw is not fit for the second Test, someone like Mayank Agarwal should replace Rahul at the top of the order.