Nottingham: India’s injury woes have turned into a blessing in disguise for KL Rahul, who cashed in on an opportunity to play his first Test in close to two years by scoring 84, at Trent Bridge against England here on Friday.
India were all out for 278, a lead of 95, in reply to England’s first innings total of 183 on third day of the opening Test at Trent Bridge on Friday. The hosts were 25 without loss when the rains came back to stop play.
Ravindra Jadeja (56) also shone with the bat for the tourists. For England, Ollie Robinson claimed a career-best 5-85, while James Anderson returned 4-54.
Rahul, who was being prepared for the middle-order, was forced into opener’s role after injuries to regular openers, Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal. Gill, who had injured his left leg has already returned home while Agarwal suffered a blow to his head and suffered concussion ahead of the first Test.
With replacement opener Prithvi Shaw and middle-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav, also sent as reinforcement, having departed for England from Sri Lanka only a day before the start of the first Test, India had no one other choice except Rahul to thrust into opening batsman’s role.
The Karnataka batsman responded in style as he buckled down to frustrate England bowlers and by lunch on third day had already faced 202 balls, scoring unbeaten 77. Post-lunch, he resumed with a boundary off James Anderson with a drive that he had done so successfully.
However, just three balls later, his luck ran dry as he nicked one to the wicketkeeper to fall as India’s sixth wicket. He had faced 214 balls and hit 12 fours.
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar acknowledged Rahul’s effort. “He has batted with patience and control. There were mutiple rain breaks and he has shown mental fortitude,” said Manjrekar on air.
Rahul had last played a Test in August-September, 2019 in the West Indies. He had failed to make impression in the opportunities given to him at the time. No wonder he was dropped after that tour of the West Indies.
Since then, India have tried Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw in the opening slot in the few series they played at home and one each in New Zealand and Australia.
Even as he toured with the team to Australia, he was never drafted in the playing XI.
On the ongoing tour of England, Rahul had scored 101 against County Select XI in a warm-up last month while playing at No. 5 and wicketkeeper-batsman.
Although, on Friday, he couldn’t go on to complete what would have been sixth Test hundred in his 37th Test, it surely has made him a strong contender to open the innings for remainder of the series.