World Cup 2019 warm-up: Rahul makes India's No4 position his own with superb ton as Shankar misses out

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KL Rahul shines when it matters most.

As India took on Bangladesh at Cardiff in their final warm-up game for the 2019 ICC World Cup, all eyes were on which batsman will make the No4 position his own.

There were two primary contenders – KL Rahul and Vijay Shankar – and both of them were given an audition at Cardiff on Tuesday.

Rahul was given the chance to bat at No4 while Shankar followed one spot behind at number five. At one point, both the batsmen were batting together at the crease, making it a straight race to claim the No4 slot.

In the end, it was Rahul who passed the test with a sublime century that helped India post a mammoth 359-7 in their 50 overs while Shankar’s innings was cut short on just two runs.

Their contrasting displays on the day means that it will be Rahul who bats at number four for India when they open their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5.

Here, we take a closer look at Rahul’s batting against Bangladesh.

STATS

Runs: 108

Balls: 99

Boundaries: 12

Sixes: 4

Strike-rate: 109.09

30-SECOND REPORT

With India’s openers falling early once again, Rahul arrived at the crease sooner than expected. Bangladesh’s bowlers were on top in the early stages with Virat Kohli and Vijay Shankar departing soon after.

However, Rahul looked like a man on a mission as he saved his best for last. The right-hander forged a game-changing 164-run partnership along with MS Dhoni where both the batsmen displayed some excellent counter-attacking batting.

There would be no loss of focus from Rahul as he grew in confidence as the innings wore on and he deservedly brought up a brilliant ton before departing to a standing ovation from the Indian fans at the venue.

Superb batting by Rahul on a good pitch.

Superb batting by Rahul on a good pitch.

GOT RIGHT

When he came into bat, Bangladesh’s bowlers had seized the upper hand with India’s top-order failing to fire. Once India were reduced to 102-4 with Shankar’s departure, it would have been easy for Rahul to go into a shell and look to preserve his wicket.

However, he ignored the pressure hanging over his head and instead thrived on it. He didn’t hesitate to play his attacking game on a good pitch and got just rewards for his boldness.

Most of his boundaries were textbook cricketing shots with Rahul barely resorting to any wild slogs.

Rahul played shots all over the park.

Rahul played shots all over the park.

GOT WRONG

There can’t be many complaints from Rahul after that showing but he still showed a slight vulnerability outside the off-stump in the early part of his innings.

A batsman who loves to play the ball late, Rahul was tentative with his defence and shot-making when he was fresh at the crease and it could have resulted in another lapse of concentration as has become a habit with him of late.

To his credit, he emerged unscathed from the early testing period and did not look back once he got going.

VERDICT – 9/10

He might have failed to take the umpteen chances he was afforded before this but Rahul made sure to make it count when it mattered most. It was a direct shootout between him and Shankar for the No4 spot on Tuesday and it was one which the former won comfortably.

With the focus firmly on him, Rahul showed his true ability as a batsman with some sumptuous drives, late cuts and pulls. His century has ensured that he gets into the playing XI for India’s campaign opener and the position is his to lose going forward in the tournament.

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