KL Rahul’s return to form in limited overs cricket couldn’t have been better timed. After his 47-ball 71 in the second Twenty20 tie in Nagpur, the opening batsman will be all confidence going into his first-ever international match at his homeground, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, on Wednesday.
It is here last year that he discovered an entirely different facet of his game when in an Indian Premier League game, which he was not supposed to play, he came up with an astonishing display of power-hitting.
RAHUL’S LUCKY BREAK
After struggling to get to terms with the T20 format, Rahul was not in the playing eleven when Gujarat Lions came for the first-leg game, but Mandeep Singh picked up a freak injury during warm-up and the local boy got another break. Rahul smashed an unbeaten 51 off 35 balls and hasn’t looked back since.
Till that game, he was only seen as a technically correct batsman suited to the longer format. After his displays in the IPL, the cricketing world opened to him with opportunities in other formats as well for India. He went on to make his one-day and Twenty20 debuts.
Sunday’s innings in Nagpur is important from the team’s point of view as overall the batting line-up has struggled to cope with the smart variations England bowlers are coming up with.
Rahul has shown the way by using his feet and coming up with big shots. The Kohlis and Dhonis have aura but on Wednesday, the Englishmen will be more wary of the Karnataka batsman.
Similarly, India will be looking up to another young gun for an encore to the Nagpur performance – Jasprit Bumrah. He is the bowler who has turned things around for India in limited-overs cricket since his debut early last year in Australia.
India had lost four straight ODIs there, but after Bumrah made his debut, they won all the remaining four matches on the tour (one ODI, three T20s). He was one of the key players in India’s win in the Asia Cup T20 tournament and then helped the team reach the semifinals of the World T20 last year.
Bumrah has proved to be a great death bowler, as he showed in Nagpur when he superbly defended eight runs in the last over despite England having six wickets at hand at the start. India has always lacked a finisher, and if it comes to the crunch on Wednesday, Kohli knows whom to throw the ball.