The ‘super sub’ tag is no longer a perfect fit for KL Rahul, but the young batsman won’t mind that one bit as long as the runs keep pouring off his bat.
On Saturday, after West Indies had amassed the third highest Twenty20 international score in India’s first entry into the new territory of the US, it was left to the 24-year-old Karnataka batsman to make a match of it.
In the end, Rahul would have been thrilled to bits if skipper MS Dhoni, who took the call to draft him into the side in place of Shikhar Dhawan, had shown better judgement to dispatch the wide delivery from Dwayne Bravo with India needing two runs to win off the final ball.
Rahul’s unbeaten 110 off 51 deliveries (12x4, 5x6) made the difference between India caving in and giving the current World T20 champions a fight till the end.
The more one sees Rahul, the similarities with Virat Kohli shine through. The same focus, an assurance bordering on arrogance that sends a ripple of confidence through the dug out and an aggressive approach to batting.
Add to that the ability of Rahul to step up and deliver whenever he is asked to. That requires a rare level of confidence. But that is what the Karnataka player has exhibited from the start.
Be it his 110 in Sydney last year in his second Test, 108 in the second Test at the P Sara stadium in Colombo as the injured Dhawan’s replacement and another solid 158 in the second Test in Kingston, this time as injury replacement for Murali Vijay.
The knock in Florida is the latest instance of Rahul’s ability to go on and get big knocks once he gets his eye in. West Indies are a different unit in T20s. But Rahul matched Dhoni in running between wickets to keep India in the hunt.
In the end, India didn’t hit the new world winning, but Rahul’s days as a super sub are pretty much over.