KL Rahul is showing versatility at number 5

By Real11 - Jan 13 2023 355 Views


 Rahul is looking forward to the No. 5 challenge

KL Rahul has had several ups and downs throughout his career and at the batting position. He began his Test career as a No.6 hitter before being promoted to the starting spot for his second Test. When he returned to Test cricket in England in 2021, he was selected as a back-up middle-order hitter before being promoted to the top spot due to an 11th-hour injury to Mayank Agarwal.

The shuttling continued in the ODIs as well. Rahul saw himself as the solution to the persistent No.4 conundrum at the outset of the 2019 World Cup. However, after four matches, he returned to the opening position due to Shikhar Dhawan's injury. Before the start of the 2020 season, Rahul had batted at No. 4 or lower in eight one-dayers, including domestic List A matches, but had never reached a fifty. In a brief series against Australia at the turn of the decade, India was once again attempting to fit three openers (Rohit Sharma, Dhawan, and Rahul) into an XI, and Rahul was left watching videos of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, and Kane Williamson on the art of batting in the middle overs in preparation for a new role at No.5. He shot an 80 in Rajkot and then went on to shoot 88* and 112 in Hamilton and Mount Maunganui a month later.

Rahul's 15th ODI innings for India came on Thursday (January 12). He averages 54.25 with a strike rate of 102.03 and 106 fifties, giving both solidity and weight in the middle order. Despite his mixed results in other forms, his anchoring of the chase in Kolkata with a measured 64* was yet another demonstration of his worth to the ODI squad, and barring another change, he will be pencilled in to play the same position at the home World Cup later this year.

"Batting at No. 5 has just helped me understand my game a little bit better. Given the ball is slightly older, you have to play spin straightaway and that's not what I am used to usually. Obviously, Rohit [Sharma] is very clear that that's where he wants me to bat and he's conveyed that to me. So now I am challenging myself to get used to this position," Rahul told Star Sports after the game.

"One thing I really enjoy is that you don't have to rush back into batting. You get time to put your feet up, have a nice cold shower, have a good meal and then relax and then see what's happening before walking in. That's the good thing about batting at No. 5," he added,

Rahul, for one, isn't bothered by his shifting batting position and insists it reflects the team's faith in his ability to play several roles. As he has done throughout this Sri Lanka series, from establishing a good base in Guwahati to completing a difficult chase in Kolkata. "Firstly, I want to be in the playing XI, that's the most important thing," Rahul said. "What the team requires me to do, I try to do that. I've done that throughout the time I played for India," he said.

"I've played at No. 5, I've played at No. 4, I've been asked to keep wickets. I think it is very fun for me. I have thrived on performing in tough conditions and under pressure. It tells me that the team trusts me and backs me. It has helped me understand my batting and myself better. When you decide to choose a team game as a sport or profession, you have to be ready or flexible to do whatever job you're asked to do."

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