Kolkata: A Test century at the Lord’s is always regarded as something special - and it’s no surprise that KL Rahul’s unbeaten effort on the first day of the second Test match on Thursday has become tha talk of the cricketing fraternity. Dilip Vengsarkar, the man they called the Lord of Lord’s for three centuries there - the most by an Indian batsman - cannot stop gushing about the efforts of Rahul and senior partner Rohit Sharma under extremely trying conditions.
The 126-run partnership between the two has entered the record books as not only it’s the first century stand by Indian openers at the venue in the new millennium, but it has come after 69 years since the late Pankaj Roy and Vinoo Mankad had stitched together a 106-stand there.
‘‘It was an absoutely top drawer effort from Rahul,’’ remarked Vengsarkar. ‘‘The way he applied himself, decided to leave the ball when it was doing quite a bit in the initial stages and his shot selection were just exemplary,’’ said the master batsman.
The main thing about batting in England is that you should not reach towards the ball. Sometimes, it moves away from you late off the seam - so you have to try and play as late as you can. This is where I will give him (Rahuly) a lot of credit as he treated the deliveries on merit and there were a few lovely cover drives too
Speaking to Gulf News in an exclusive interview over phone, Vengsarkar said: ‘‘ The Lord’s is known as the home of cricket and with a full house in attendance, the atmosphere may unnerve you. However, he was completely focussed on the job and the other aspect was that he remained not out overnight, which is very good for the team’s point of view. The two partnerships that he had with Rohit and Virat Kohli have put the team in a position of strength.’’
Always regarded as a batsman who was extremely pleasing on the eye, Rahul had been often criticised in the past for impetuous strokes - but Vengsarkar felt this is the area where he has shown huge improvement in both the Tests so far. Asked if he would like to highlight any technical changes in particular, he said: ‘‘The main thing about batting in England is that you should not reach towards the ball. Sometimes, it moves away from you late off the seam - so you have to try and play as late as you can. This is where I will give him a lot of credit as he treated the deliveries on merit as there were a few lovely cover drives too,’’ he said.
Looking ahead, Vengsarkar went a step further and said the Indian team management should groom the Karnataka star for captaincy in future. ‘‘Rahul has been around for sometime now. I feel he is more mature now and should be groomed for Indian captaincy as he is good enough to play in all formats - he has also led his state team apart from captaining the Punjab Kings in IPL,’’ he said.
Summing up their partnership, Vengsarkar felt that Rohit’s masterclass of 83, till he was beaten by that peach of a delivery from James Anderson, must have also influenced the centurion.
Asked how would be assess the journey of Rohit in the Test arena after such a late entry as an opener, the former chairman of selection committee said that he had acquitted himself extremely well despite earning a regular spot so late in his career. ‘‘It’s not easy for a middle order batsman to come and open in Test matches. You can still do it in the shorter formats but in Tests, you have to shun some of your strokes but hats off to Rohit, he applied himself brilliantly,’’ he added.