A file photo of KL Rahul. Photograph:( PTI )
Whenever I see KL Rahul, I recall India-Australia Test match on Boxing Day, 26th December 2014. KL Rahul, then 22 years old made his Test debut and he was literally nervous. Rahul got succumbed to the grandeur of the occasion after all, it is not easy to make your international debut against Australia, in Australia, and at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.
KL Rahul played an inexplicable shot right in the beginning of the inning and threw his wicket. I remember headlines in a newspaper next day saying "Tell us Rahul, What were you actually trying to do?" It explains that how bizarre Rahul's shot was.
But then these adverse situations only distinguish a champion from others. KL Rahul did an immediate course correction after the debacle at Melbourne and came back strongly in the very next Test at Sydney as he slammed a century there.
KL Rahul has been impressive in all format of international ever since that century at Sydney. He is one of those rare batsmen, who have scored centuries in all three formats of international Cricket.
Having missed IPL 2017 due to injury, IPL 2018 has been a turning point of Rahul's career and it has certainly catapulted him into an even upper league. KL Rahul has been one of the most impactful players this IPL. The way KL Rahul almost single-handedly pulled match for his side against team Mumbai on 16th May was actually a mark of a true champion.
In the opening game of Punjab against Delhi at IPL 2018 itself, Rahul made a solid statement by smashing a fifty in just 14 balls and he has been among runs consistently and he alone is taking whole batting burden for his side.
It clearly endorses one thing that KL Rahul is set to play a major role for Team India in all formats in days to come. He, per se in the league of Virat Kohli in a sense that he can excel all formats of the games and this is where he scores well over the likes of Ajinkya Rahane (who is more suited for Test) and Rohit Sharma (who is more suited in T-20 and ODI).
KL is somewhat is on Virender Sehwag's template. He is free flowing and is a natural hitter of the ball. At the top of the order, his brisk batting can make a huge difference even the Test. Remember how one short but quick-fire innings from Sehwag set the tone for the historic chase against England in 2008 at Chennai Test. Over the years, Sehwag did one job for India with perfection and that was putting the pressure back on bowling attack by his attacking play. Now Rahul fits in that role.
KL Rahul has been a treat to watch and I am sure that going forward he would play an all-important role for India in all formats of the game. It is not an hyperbole but in my opinion, after watching Rahul's show so far in IPL 2018, overall KL Rahul is only second to Virat Kohli in Indian batting line-up, if we consider potential impact which Rahul can make in the all three formats put together.
He can be a key player when India will tour England this summer for the forthcoming series down under in Australia and World Cup next year as well. Let's wait and watch.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)