Born April 18, 1992, KL Rahul, has remained a curious case ever since debuting for the national side. His fortune has oscillated between frustrating and invaluable. From being perceived as a specialist Test opener to India’s first-choice limited-overs wicketkeeper, Rahul, at one point of time, looked to be the only Indian batsman barring Virat Kohli, who looked suitable for all formats.
Rahul was prolific for Karnataka and made it to the Test side during India’s tour of Australia in 2014-15. He made his debut in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne, best-remembered as MS Dhoni’s last Test. Coming in as a Test specialist, Rahul played overtly aggressive strokes to get out in both the innings. In the next Test at Sydney, Rahul batted at the familiar position of an opener and stroked a delightful hundred. In his first ten Test innings, he had two brilliant centuries and seven single-digit scores. Injuries and inconsistencies pushed him out of the side.
In 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL), Rahul returned as a different batsman, an aggressive one with more improvised strokes. In a team stacked with Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, Rahul made a solid impression for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the 2016 season.
Rahul would soon win an ODI cap and go on to score a debut ODI hundred in the tour of Zimbabwe in 2016. He remains the only Indian to achieve this feat. Rahul impressed in the West Indies tour that followed and scored a T20I hundred in Florida. He became only the third Indian cricketer after Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma to score hundreds in all three international formats.
THREE LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS
When it just seemed that Rahul’s career had taken off, injuries and inconsistencies returned to haunt him. Add the controversial Koffee with Karan episode of 2019 to the equation to make things worse. In between all this, there were some stunning moments – the fastest fifty in IPL, his form for Kings XI Punjab, the century at The Oval, another T20I ton at Manchester and more.
KL RAHUL’S INTERNATIONAL CAREER
In 2019, Shikhar Dhawan’s injury in the World Cup opened the doors for Rahul at the top. He didn’t disappoint. However, with Dhawan and Rohit both available, Rahul’s role was more of a floater. An injury to Rishabh Pant in the 2020 Australia ODI series turned things around. Rahul was forced to take up the wicketkeeping gloves and with it began a glorious run with the bat.
His form continued in New Zealand, and now he has emerged as India's specialist limited-overs' wicketkeeper-batsman.
When it comes to Test cricket, the emergence of his best friend Mayank Agarwal and young Prithvi Shaw has pushed Rahul to the backseat. With Shubman Gill waiting in the wings, it looks difficult for Rahul to break into the side as an opener. However, with Wriddhiman Saha getting no younger and Pant’s indifferent form with the bat, Rahul could eye for a specialist keeper’s slot. Though the fact remains that keeping in Tests is much severe workload and a specialist’s job.
Self-isolating at home is the worst way to celebrate one’s birthday but, in the coronavirus-hit world, there’s little option. In an ideal world, he would be leading the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in the IPL 2020.
From Hardik Pandya to Suresh Raina, many cricketers took to social media to wish Rahul on his 28th birthday. But as usual, his former KXIP captain, Ravichandran Ashwin sealed it with the layered humour.