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Cricket World Cup 2019 | Rahul All but Seals No.4 Spot With Effortless Century

Included in the World Cup squad on the back of a fantastic IPL 2019, Rahul made a big statement with a stylish hundred at Cardiff – an innings where he looked assured, both in defense and attack.

Nikhil Narain |May 29, 2019, 7:40 AM IST
Cricket World Cup 2019 | Rahul All but Seals No.4 Spot With Effortless Century

Virat Kohli and the Indian management would breathe a huge sigh of relief. KL Rahul registered a majestic 108 in just 99 deliveries in the warm-up match against Bangladesh in Cardiff and at least for now settled the debate for the Number 4 position.

India has had serious problems with Number 4 spot and their collective average of 37.09 in that position has been amongst the lowest (seventh-lowest amongst major teams) since World Cup 2015. Their collective strike rate of 84.18 from the position has also been poor. They have tried as many as 12 batsmen (only Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe with 13 tried more players) from Number 4 since World Cup 2015 but no one put in the consistent performances to seal the spot.

While Ajinkya Rahane (who had the best record from Number 4 in this period) fell out of favor with the selectors, Ambati Rayudu had poor returns of late and also struggled to score at a high strike rate.

Rahul, himself, hasn’t done much in the three innings he has batted in this position – scoring just 26 runs.

His overall ODI record is also quite middling with just 343 runs in 13 innings at an average of 34.3 and strike rate of 80.89, including one hundred and two fifties.

Included in the World Cup squad on the back of a fantastic IPL 2019, Rahul made a big statement with a stylish hundred at Cardiff – an innings where he looked assured, both in defense and attack.

Rahul came out to bat at 50 for 2 in the 14th over. Batting was not looking easy on a pitch where the ball was not quite coming onto the bat. Kohli soon exited with the score on 83 in the 19th over.

Even though Rahul started off cautiously scoring just 8 off the first 17 deliveries, he faced, he looked solid in his defense.

Having got a feel of the conditions he then unleashed his repertoire of strokes. From delightful punches to exquisite cover drives, from authoritative pull shots to sublime straight drives – Rahul displayed the entire range.

He raced to his fifty off just 45 deliveries which meant that he had scored 43 off the last 28 deliveries he had faced.

Rahul

Rahul was in complete control now. He not only got boundaries off the bad deliveries but also displayed the ability to put the good ones away. He got stuck into Shakib al Hasan and lofted him towards long leg for a boundary before depositing him for a massive six over the bowler’s head. He ended the over with another boundary behind square.

He registered his 100 off just 94 deliveries and was finally dismissed for 108 (99 balls) but not before he had put together a splendid 164-run stand (in just 21.2 overs) for the fifth wicket with MS Dhoni. India went on to score a mammoth 359 for 7.

Rahul’s magnificent innings included 12 fours and 4 sixes, ie 72 of his 108 runs came in boundaries. That is the special talent Rahul possesses – when on song he can tear into the best of bowling attacks and has the ability to score big runs at a high strike rate – qualities which India need at Number 4.

He was impressive on all counts today. He built his innings perfectly playing himself initially and rebuilding with Kohli before accelerating brilliantly with Dhoni. He looked calm and composed at the crease milking the singles and picking the boundaries, both with ease. He displayed a wide array of shots and scored all around the park – which made it difficult for the bowlers to contain him.

Rahul has given everyone a glimpse of what he is capable of. He has the ability to single-handedly win matches for India from the position.

The curtain raiser is over. Can Rahul be India’s playmaker in the middle-order when the real deal begins?

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