Head coach Rahul Dravid has unequivocally backed opener KL Rahul to keep his place in the XI and come good soon enough. Three games into India’s World Cup campaign, Rahul’s scores read 4 (8), 9 (12) and 9 (14) and his slow starts have played a part in India’s poor PowerPlay returns. It’s a stark contrast from their PowerPlay scoring rate of 8.67 heading into this tournament – the best among all Full Member teams. It’s also a reflection of how the conditions in Australia are in favour of the new-ball bowlers, one Dravid pointed out while discussing Rahul’s form.
“I think in Rohit’s and my mind, there’s absolutely no doubt about who’s going to open for us,” Dravid said on the eve of the game against Bangladesh at the Adelaide Oval. “No, not at all [concerned]. I think he’s a fantastic player and he’s got a proven track record. He’s done really well. I thought he’s been batting superbly. These things can happen in a T20 game sometimes. It’s been tough, it’s not been that easy for the sort of top order batsmen. This tournament has been pretty challenging.
“We have a lot of conversations with our players. A lot of it is — it’s hard to get into exact details of what conversations you have with your players, but rest assured, I think both in words and in action, I think over the last year he [Rahul] knows he has our support. He’s known that.
“We’ve been very — there’s been a lot of clarity about what our side is going to be, what our squad is going to be coming into this tournament, and we haven’t wavered from that for a very long time. Yes, because we play a lot of cricket, you might see a lot of different people playing in different situations, in different games. There have been a lot of injuries, including him. He’s had phases where he’s unfortunately been injured. But in word and in action, I think with all of our players, we’ve — I think that’s the great thing about Rohit, that he’s really shown them that confidence and that belief.”
Dravid drew attention to Rahul’s 33-ball 57 against an attack comprising Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson in the pre-tournament warm-up game on a pacy wicket at The Gabba to underscore why a player of his natural ability deserved to be backed. “I thought he was superb in the practice game against Australia with Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummins. It was a pretty good attack, and I thought he batted superbly that day, to get 50 or 60.
“He’s actually playing really well. Just hoping it all clicks together over the next three or four games, and yeah, we know his quality, we know his ability, and he’s really well suited for these kinds of conditions, these kinds of pitches. He’s got a good all-around game. He’s got a very good strong back-foot game which is obviously very much required in these conditions. So yeah, we’re pretty confident and happy with the way he’s hitting it.”
Dravid also came to the defence of Karthik’s low-returns in the lower middle-order citing that his batting position meant he had very few balls to face and has been dismissed attempting high-risk shots, which are par for the course in T20 cricket. When put to him that two of Rahul’s dismissals incidentally had been while attempting defensive shots, Dravid said the team could afford a player in the top-order to bide his time and then play his game owing to the challenging conditions that have been presented to them.
“In these conditions, maybe we are able to afford him that time, and like I said, to answer the question, we completely back him. We have no concerns about him. We know that when he gets going, and I’ve seen it against Australia, against a top-class attack just a couple of weeks ago, I know the impact this guy can make,” Dravid said.