While it was Shreyas Iyer who stole the show with his finishing touches in the first T20I against New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland, on Friday, KL Rahul played no less significant an innings that helped India take an early lead in the series. Opening the batting with Rohit Sharma, Rahul hit 56 in 27 balls to give India the launching pad from which the likes of Virat Kohli (45) and Iyer (58*) delivered.
The visitors lost Rohit early but Rahul then added 99 runs with his captain which led to India comfortably winning the game eventually. Rahul has been in good form of late. He has picked up a hundred against the West Indies recently and also was in good form against Australia recently despite batting at different positions. On Monday, he rose to the occasion once more though it was Iyer who walked away with the man of the match award after India won by six wickets.
Keeping has helped KL Rahul understand wicket better
An additional aspect of Rahul’s impressive performance has been his wicketkeeping. The Karnataka cricketer donned the gloves after Rishabh Pant received a blow in his helmet in the first ODI against Australia and he has kept well ever since. He affected his first-ever stumping in the second match in Rajkot when he dismissed Australia captain Aaron Finch.
Rahul’s keeping has given Kohli the flexibility in forming his playing XI and he has been persisted in the T20I series against the Black Caps as well. “I am honestly loving it, in the international stage it might look that I am new to wicket-keeping, but I have done this role in the domestic cricket. I have done it for my IPL franchise, I enjoy staying behind the stumps,” KL Rahul said after the first match, making his jubilation obvious.
“It gives me a great idea of how the pitch is playing then I can pass on the message to the skipper and bowlers. Wicket-keeping requires you to be pro-active. I am enjoying the responsibility,” he added. KL Rahul has affected five stumpings in List A matches and seven in T20s but it is his current stint in international cricket which has earned him kudos. For a batsman who was struggling across formats a few months ago, it has been a tremendous comeback.
“In the team meetings, the coaches put up all stats and numbers. We have an idea about what our hitting areas can be as ground dimensions are talked about during team meetings. It is a strange ground for me, however, it is good to be challenged,” Rahul said.
“I have tried it in the last 12-15 months to play normal cricketing shots. I tend to believe in my abilities, it is easy for me if I believe in my shot-making. Shreyas also played a fantastic inning today, he played the role of finisher perfectly today,” he added. The second T20I will be played at the same venue on Sunday.
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