Former India seamer Venkatesh Prasad fired a fresh salvo at struggling India opener K.L. Rahul for his inconsistent performances in the longest format of the game, pointing out the batter’s modest overseas record and comparing it with home/overseas statistics of players such as Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane, three of whom have turned out for India as openers in Test cricket.
Rahul’s last century in Tests came in December 2021, against South Africa at Centurion. His horror run with the willow in international cricket continued in the second Test of the ongoing series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy, at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley stadium, as the right-hander could aggregate just 18 runs across two innings. Chasing just 115 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, fans would have expected Rahul and Rohit Sharma to romp home without much hassle.
However, Rahul fell to the spin of Nathan Lyon, who trapped him in front of the stumps for just one run. ”There is a view that K.L. Rahul has an outstanding overseas Test record. But stats speak otherwise. He has a test avg of 30 overseas in 56 innings. He has scored 6 overseas centuries but followed it up with a string of low scores that’s why averaging 30. Let’s look at a few others,” tweeted Prasad on Monday.
He brought up veteran Shikhar’s solid overseas records, pointing out his average of “nearly 40, with 5 100s”. “Shikhar Dhawan has the best overseas average amongst recent openers. Avg of nearly 40 with 5 100’s. Though he too hasn’t been consistent in Test but had Outstanding centuries in SL and NZ, plus a much better home record,” the former India seamer wrote in another tweet. He also brought up Mayank Agarwal, who as an opener has fared exceedingly well in home conditions. “Mayank Agarwal after the brilliant start in Aust did struggle in away test matches. But he has by far the best home record. Avg of nearly 70 in 13 innings, 2 double 100’s & a 150 on a Wankhede pitch where everyone else struggled. Great against spin & had a prolific domestic season,” Prasad tweeted.
He further pointed out that young opener Shubman Gill averages 37 in his brief overseas run in Tests, with the knock of 91 against Australia at The Gabba in Brisbane being “one of the best overseas fourth innings”.” Shubhman Gill has had a brief international career and in 14 overseas innings averages 37, with his 91 at Gabba amongst the best overseas 4th innings and has been in outstanding form,” he tweeted. He also pointed to veteran Ajinkya Rahane’s overseas record, saying he averages “over 40 overseas in 50 Test matches”.”And if overseas performance is a criterion, Ajinkya Rahane, despite being out of form and also inconsistent before being dropped had one of the best overseas Test records, averaging over 40 overseas in 50 test matches. Was out of form and dropped …,” the former India seamer added in another tweet.
He added that after being retained for the final two Tests of the ongoing series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Rahul’s best chance of coming back to form is the third Test at Indore, or else he should play county cricket, perform well and earn back his place in the national side. “But with K.L. being retained for the remaining 2 test matches, if he is picked in the playing 11, Indore is his best chance of coming back to form and silencing critics like me. Else needs to play county cricket, perform well and make a comeback in the Test side,” Prasad tweeted.
The opener had a horror 2022. After missing nearly six months of action, Rahul blew hot and cold ever since Asia Cup 2022. He did score some half-centuries but drew criticism from fans and veteran India cricketers for his lack of attacking intent and inability to deliver in big matches. Rahul played four Tests last year, aggregating 137 runs at an average of 17.12, with just one fifty. In 10 ODIs last year, he scored 251 runs at an average of 27.88, with two half-centuries and a best score of 73. In 16 T20Is in 2022, he scored 434 runs at an average of 28.93 and six half-centuries, with a best score of 62. Overall in 30 matches last year, he aggregated 822 runs at an average of 25.68, with nine half-centuries. This year, he has scored a paltry 38 runs in three Test innings. Overall, he has totaled just 148 runs across five international matches at an average of 29.60, with one half-century and the best score of 64*.