'MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh were the only ones...': Ashwin's huge 'box-office' ODI cricketer comment on KL Rahul
Ashwin gave the examples of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni to state that KL Rahul's task of batting in No.5 is one of the hardest things to do in ODIs.
KL Rahul may have lost his place in T20Is and Tests after a prolonged lean patch in both formats but he still continues to be an indispensable part of the Indian ODI set-up. The right-hander, who has rapidly risen as India's first-choice keeper in ODIs after Rishabh Pant's injury, has been a pillar of strength in the middle-order. An opener by nature, Rahul has taken to the role of middle-order batter like a duck to water. In fact, his initial numbers while batting at No.5 are second to none. In the 18 innings that Rahul has batted at No.5, he has scored 742 runs at an average of 53 and a strike rate of nearly 100. They are considerably higher than his overall numbers. His ODI highest score of 112 also came while batting in this position.
Rahul's quality in the middle-order once again came to the fore when India were in a difficult situation, chasing 189 against Australia in the first ODI in Mumbai. India lost half their side with more than 100 runs still to get. Rahul, who came in to bat at No.5, showed great composure and remained unbeaten on 75 to guide India to victory by five wickets.
Ashwin, who has played a lot of cricket with Rahul, said Rahul is one of the cricketers going around in world cricket in 50-over cricket. The veteran off-spinner gave the examples of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni to state that batting in No.5 is one of the hardest things to do in ODIs.
"Consider everyone who is currently batting at No.5 in ODI cricket. There isn't even one cricketer at the moment who bats at No5 and has made a mark for himself. Because it is a very tough position to bat. Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni were the only two guys who batted mostly at 5 in ODIs and made a mark for themselves. Dhoni mostly batted at 6 though. For Australia, it was Michael Bevan. It is not at all easy to bat in that number in ODIs," Ashwin said on his YouTube channel.
Rahul has not featured in India's T20I squad ever since last year's World Cup. He recently lost his place in the Test side too. Ashwin said the talented Karnataka cricketer was going through a tough patch and it was the duty of fans not to forget his achievements in ODIs and back him during the difficult phase.
"If people we like do something good and get trending on Twitter then we will start worshipping and celebrating them like anything but if they are going through a bad patch, we will not celebrate their value or the magnitude of what they are doing. KL Rahul is doing a very difficult role with ease. He has been a proper box-office in ODIs. He has got phenomenal numbers batting at No.5. GO and search if you can find anyone even close to him in terms of numbers in ODIs.
"Immediately after his knock (in Mumbai) people were like 'KL Rahul is back'. KL Rahul didn't go anywhere in ODI cricket to be back. He didn't do anything for us to put him down one day and celebrate him the other day. We shouldn't do that. We should know how to assess a player's performance. If we don't do that, we will back all the wrong and play all the wrong people," Ashwin added.
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