Team India’s dominance continued in the 2023 ODI World Cup, securing a place in the summit clash after a 70-run win over New Zealand in Mumbai.
While the fast bowling trio along with players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma will get a lot of praise for the team’s performance in this tournament, the rest have done their job flawlessly and contributed to the team’s overall dominance.
One of these silent warriors is KL Rahul, who has achieved many achievements for the team while discharging his duties admirably.
His extremely cool demeanor on the field and a steely determination when wielding the willow have been a constant feature throughout his almost flawless performances at the World Cup so far.
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In their first match of the ongoing tournament in Chennai, India bowled out Australia for 199 runs to take the game.
However, Rahul came to the crease in the third over of the chase as India were 2 for 3, bringing back memories of World Cups past.
KL Rahul has scored more than 1000 runs for India at the fourth and fifth positions in the batting order, with an average of over fifty and a strike rate of over 90. Photo Credit: AP
Kohli and Rahul then overcame the difficult situation and stitched a 165-run partnership with the help of some expert strike rotation, giving India their first win of the tournament.
Rahul’s frustration after being guilty of hitting the ball too well past the boundary, when he was unbeaten on 91 and India needed five to win, was the highlight of the game.
The 31-year-old has added another 289 runs since then, changing gears as per the demands of the situation he is in. He also managed to score a record century in 63 balls in the final league game against Netherlands.
To be honest, before the tournament there was not much doubt about the credentials of middle-order batsman Rahul. He has been India’s best middle-order batsman in the last few years.
He has scored more than 1000 runs for India at the fourth and fifth positions in the batting order, with an average of over fifty and a strike rate of over 90.
The uncertainty was in his wicketkeeping, an aspect for which he has faced criticism in the past, especially during his IPL stint with Punjab Kings.
Due to Rishabh Pant’s injury and the lack of form of the other contenders, India were left in a dilemma to fill the gap behind the wicket, a situation reminiscent of the early 2000s.
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A certain Rahul Dravid had put his hand forward while taking command in the 2003 World Cup also. Now, his namesake has done the same, willingly taking up the place that was so secure in Indian cricket for the best part of two decades.
Rahul has played a role in 16 dismissals for India in this World Cup, at a rate of 1.6 dismissals per match. He trails only South Africa’s Quinton de Kock and Netherlands’ Scott Edwards in the second metric.
In the semi-final against New Zealand, Rahul took four catches, including the crucial catch of Rachin Ravindra, the Kiwis’ top scorer in this tournament.
Rahul has played a role in 16 dismissals for India in this World Cup, at a rate of 1.6 dismissals per match. , Photo Credit: AP
Due to changes in ODI cricket, the responsibilities of the wicketkeeper have increased. The person behind the stumps is now given the additional role of arbiter of DRS calls made by the fielding team.
Rahul has played this role almost to perfection, showing a cool head whenever the captain has needed his inputs during the tournament. Rahul has held his ground against the most vigorous appeal of the bowlers, a trait with which other keepers often struggle.
At the same time, he has performed well at the other end of the spectrum as well. Sri Lanka’s Dushmantha Chameera plays a shot down the leg side during the league stage contest at the Wankhede. There was no appeal from any of the nearby fielders but Rahul convinced the captain for a review which proved successful.
Rahul may not top the World Cup fantasy points table or even the ever-evolving Impact points chart, but his significant contribution to the team’s success cannot be denied.
Among the multitude of characters he has played for the team, only one remains, the one rolling his arms. The lack of part-time bowlers may also force them to do so but hopefully it will not come to this.
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