India's new Test skipper Virat Kohli took a major decision to drop inconsistent opener Shikhar Dhawan for the ongoing Sydney Test.
Lalchand Rajput at Niranjan Shah's condolence meeting at the PJ Hindu Gymkhana yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Kohli, leading the side in only his second Test, promoted Kannaur Lokesh Rahul, who debuted in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne, to partner with Murali Vijay at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The move paid rich dividends as Rahul slammed his maiden Test ton against Australia yesterday. Rahul's 110 included 13 boundaries and a six.
The Karnataka player's emergence also solves opening issues for the Indian team management. "It is always good to have options. Nothing better for a side to have three opening options," said Lalchand Rajput, who was Rahul's coach during the India 'A' tour to Australia last year.
'A natural opener'
"Rahul is a natural opener. He should be played at the top. Batting at No 3 is also good for him. I think he put pressure on himself in his debut match. Also, batting in the middle order must have been different for him. Nonetheless, he will learn with experience," Rajput added.
The former India batsman said the experience of touring Australia last year must have helped Rahul. "He did not score much (15, 34, 52) on that tour. But I am sure the experience he gathered there would have helped him now. We discussed about playing short balls and back foot strokes in Australia.
Adjusting to the length is the key for a batsman. This hundred will give him a lot of confidence," said Rajput. India's 2007 World T20-winning coach said he sees a lot of similarities between Rahul and his former Karnataka statemate Rahul Dravid.
"He is in the Dravid mould. His work ethics and preparation is very similar to Dravid. He is a very intense cricketer who is constantly thinking about his game, his batting. He is temperamentally very strong," concluded Rajput.