The independent voice of cricket

Series Editorial

Trusted by India, a KL Rahul redemption might not be very far away

KL Rahul has been in woeful Test form lately
by Shashwat Kumar 4 minute read

KL Rahul has not been able to buy a run in Test cricket in recent times, but Shashwat Kumar argues that after this dark and seemingly dreary night, the sun could rise on his India career very soon.

Boxing Day, 2021. Opening alongside Mayank Agarwal at Centurion, Rahul produced a sumptuous ton, helping India secure a historic win against South Africa. A few months earlier, he scored an equally brilliant hundred, showing extraordinary restraint and technique against England at the Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Apart from illustrating his batting credentials, both innings also validated India’s trust in him as their premier Test opener. Notably, Rahul was not pencilled down as India’s first-choice opener for England tour, and was included only when Agarwal was ruled out of the first Test match due to a concussion and Shubman Gill was deemed unfit after the World Test Championship final. Rahul showed enough maturity and wherewithal to become one of India’s best batters on that tour.


Fast forward a year and a half, and he seems anything but a solid opening batter. Since the start of 2022, he has scored 175 runs in 11 innings, with a solitary half-century. These numbers look worse with someone as gifted as Gill waiting in the wings.

Rahul is down in the dumps. He is finding ways to get out and run-scoring looks as alien to him as it has probably ever been. The worst part is that he is not emanating the vibes you expect from a top-drawer opener, let alone someone labelled one of India’s brightest batting talents in recent times.

But here is the catch. Having plummeted to such depths, he can almost assume that things cannot get any worse. It may not make sense, for if you glance across and watch Rahul bat, there are a hundred reasons to suggest why he should be nowhere near the current Indian Test setup.

Faith and trust, though, work in mysterious ways.

At the moment, Rahul has a team management who has faith in him. Rohit Sharma, the current Indian captain, had been in not too different circumstances a few years ago. Back then, there would be countless debates over whether Rohit warranted a place in the Indian side. But MS Dhoni persisted with Rohit, and India are now reaping the rewards.

It is debatable whether Rahul has been good enough for Rohit to keep trusting him, or whether he can replicate Rohit’s performance in the second half of his career. But at a time when almost every Indian cricket fan, at least on social media, seems to have given up on Rahul, he continues to find support from Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid.

It is refreshing to see India choose to remember the fleeting glimpses of Rahul’s genius. He has failed since the brilliant hundreds in England and South Africa, but if he had been good enough to conjure those knocks, he can surely be trusted to do so again, irrespective of place and time.

For now, maybe that is all that Rahul requires – that slight bit of confidence, that arm around the shoulder that his talent and class will eventually come through. The feeling that someone still believes in his abilities, especially at a time when self-belief is not very high.

Over the past few weeks, India have not really suffered, having taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ongoing series against Australia. But that fear and trepidation of a collapse, triggered by another poor Rahul outing, has been palpable.

Picture this. Rahul may actually get it right. Even after this darkest hour, the sun may rise on his Test career. The flowing cover drives, the exemplary judgement around off stump, the flicks off his pads and the lofted shots off spinners may enthrall all of us again. If all that happens, all this backing and support will make sense.

It is indeed difficult to believe that a revival is round the corner. Yet, if Rahul is really as special as India think he is, it might actually not be very far away.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99