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Rahul fails as opener, middle-order may be way ahead

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Ahmedabad, March 17 (IANS) On November 25 last year, two days before the ODI series in Australia was to begin, the then India vice-captain K.L. Rahul had admitted that he isn’t blessed with power-hitting but said that he has other ways of scoring runs.

Rahul was coming in after a very productive Indian Premier League (IPL) season, winning the Orange Cap on the back of the 670 runs he scored in IPL 2020.

But over four months after finishing as IPL’s top-scorer, Rahul is struggling at the international level of the format. Let aside big-hitting, he is struggling to even get off the mark.

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The right-handed batsman has scored just one run in his last three innings with the last two outings resulting in a couple of ducks.

Even in the last T20 International he played in the series in Australia, Rahul made a duck which makes it three ducks in his last four T20Is.

It puts his place in the playing XI for the fourth T20I on Thursday in doubt and there is a likelihood that he may be pushed down the batting order to No. 4 if not left out.

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“Anyone can have a lean phase. In the last one year, KL been our best batsman in the T20 format, averaging 40-plus and striking at 145. Three failures don’t change the fact that he is the best batsman in the format,” said Rathour while speaking to the media.

“He has done really well for us in the past one year and this is the time that the team has to support him. (We are) absolutely sure he will come out of this lean phase,” he added.

While he had a 51 and a 30 in the first two T20Is in Australia, prior to Covid-19 he did well in New Zealand at the top of the order. He got a couple of half-centuries, made 45, 39 and 27 while opening the batting, making it difficult for India to ignore him as an opening option. Even for his IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings), he opened the batting and scored heavily.

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But with Rohit Sharma, who has returned to the India side as vice-captain, and Ishan Kishan clicking as opener in the second T20I, Rahul may either have to be pushed down the order or left out.

Former India chief selector M.S.K. Prasad told IANS that he feels Rahul should be playing in the middle-order.

“I would prefer Rahul to bat in the middle-order which he has done to perfection. If someone like Ishan Kishan or Shikhar Dhawan can bat up, KL in the middle can be a good option although now they are trying others like Suryakumar Yadav too,” said Prasad.

–IANS

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