Legendary opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar has called KL Rahul the ‘next big thing’ in Indian cricket after his rollicking display during the side’s eight-wicket win over England in the first T20 at Manchester.
Rahul struck an unbeaten 54-ball 101 to blow the hosts away and Gavaskar could not stop gushing about the batsman’s performance in his column for the Times of India.
The 68-year-old praised Rahul and wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav who picked up a maiden five-wicket haul to trigger an England collapse.
“What they didn’t anticipate was the magic of Kuldeep Yadav, who quite literally had the English batsmen like puppets on a string. The deliveries with which he drew Bairstow and Joe Root forward, playing for the wrong turn, brought a hearty laugh from those who know of English batsmen’s struggles against wrist spin,” Gavaskar wrote in his column.
“Chahal (Yuzvendra) perhaps wasn’t able to grip the new ball and so wasn’t at his best but Kuldeep, brought in when Buttler (Jos) was rampaging, changed the game in a jiffy. It was magical,” Gavaskar added.
“Then came a mini-masterpiece from the bat of someone who is going to be the next big thing in Indian cricket. Right from his debut when he squared up against Mitchell Johnson on the last tour of Australia, KL Rahul has looked a class apart. The ease with which he tore into the English bowling was breathtaking and even had the Indian skipper clapping,” the legend wrote about Rahul’s innings.
India will be hoping Kuldeep and Rahul can repeat their heroics when the men in blue take on England in the second of the three T20s at Cardiff on Friday.
India ‘A’ batsman Prithvi Shaw continued to pile on the runs during the tour of England as he cracked 188 from just 169 deliveries against West Indies ‘A ‘in the first unofficial Test in Beckenham on Friday.
Shaw looked on course for a thoroughly deserved double century after starting the day on 101 from just 74 balls and the Indians on 159 for no loss. It was a great turnaround by the Indians who were shot out for just 133 in the first innings before the West Indians made 383 in the four-day match.
Shaw starred in two mega partnership – 181 for the opening wicket with Mayank Agarwal (69) and 158 for the second wicket with Ravi Samarth (who contributed 63 to the stand).
Shaw, still only 18, scored a staggering 28 boundaries and two sixes for a strike rate of 111. His attacking strokeplay ensured India maintained a scoring rate of more than six. The Indian A side was 344 for two in just 56 overs in the second session.
It was the third century of the tour for Shaw. He scored a century in a warm-up 50-over match against Leicestershire followed by a ton against West Indies ‘A’ in the 50-over tri-series which India won.
Shaw has a sensational record in first-class cricket. Before the West Indies match, Shaw had 10 first-class matches under his belt with four fifties and five centuries.
Having taken a 1-0 lead in the series courtesy a comprehensive eight-wicket win in the T20 series opener at Manchester, the Indians will come into Friday’s clash high on confidence.
KL Rahul’s unbeaten 101 in that win means that the Karnataka batsman has very much cemented his spot in India’s limited-overs setup after being constantly in and out of the side in the last season.
While Kohli had spoken about experimenting with middle-order combinations during the England tour, Rahul’s tremendous form may have solved most of his problems.
The India skipper dropped down to the No4 spot in the first T20 to allow Rahul to flourish at one down and it will not be surprising to see India play with the same batting order on Friday.
In the bowling department, Bhuvneshwar should share India’s new-ball attack with the impressive Umesh Yadav despite having a rare off-day at Old Trafford. Wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will be India’s biggest weapons with Hardik Pandya occupying the all-rounder’s slot.
For hosts England, a change in batting order is likely. With Kuldeep running through the middle order in Manchester, Eoin Morgan could be tempted to drop down Jos Buttler in the middle-order to deal with the threat posed by India’s wrist spinners.
Alex Hales was off-colour in Manchester and he could be another batsman whose batting position could change with Joe Root or Jonny Bairstow moving up the order.
ENGLAND: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Alex Hales, Moeen Ali, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett
INDIA: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal