KL Rahul ready for Tests after clearing Anil Kumble's 'test'

Updated: Nov 21, 2016, 13:08 IST | Satish Viswanathan |

Karnataka batsman’s good show in Ranji Trophy meets India chief coach’s condition that no ‘recovered’ player will be considered for international cricket without playing domestic circuit 


Indian opener KL Rahul hits a six off West Indies’ leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo during the Kingston Test on July 31. Pic/PTI
Indian opener KL Rahul hits a six off West Indies’ leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo during the Kingston Test on July 31. Pic/PTI

With the Karnataka Ranji Trophy team having to chosen to stay in Vishakapatnam, which has better hotels, and make the daily 55-km road-trip to Vizianagaram, the venue of their first class fixture against Team Rajasthan, all it took for KL Rahul to switch from being in the State team to once again becoming part of the Indian team was a mere change in hotel. 

It was shortly after he had completed a century in Karnataka’s second innings yesterday that the BCCI sent out a press release officially adding his name to the until then 15-man Indian squad for the second Test against the visiting England side.

Rahul, for his part, enjoyed a celebratory lunch with his statemates before leaving to join the Indian team. Cricket’s traditions allowing for fielding substitutions to be made in such exceptional circumstances, Karnataka didn’t suffer as they pressed for their third successive outright.

In a way it was a win-win situation for all – for Rahul, the Karnataka team as also the Indian team – thanks to the new initiative introduced by coach Anil Kumble who decreed that no player who went out with an injury would get back in till he played at least one game, preferably a first class fixture. Before Kumble stated so, Rahul would have been back in the squad for the second Test after being passed fit at the National Cricket Academy and wouldn’t have played the first-class game, which meant he would have been short of match practice.

Gambhir’s replacement
So he now knows he’s fully fit, has runs under the belt, Karnataka got a half-century and century from him in the two respective innings and the Indian team has a match-ready replacement for Gautam Gambhir post the left-handed opener’s twin failures in the high-scoring game opening Test at Rajkot.

“He (Rahul) has recovered now and as per the protocol, we wanted him to go and play a first-class match,” said Kumble here yesterday. But will he play was the obvious question. “Rahul is available for selection and you would want Rahul to be in the starting line-up, that’s the reason he has been included,” was the coach’s way of confirming the young man’s place.

Lessons learnt
The comeback from injury hasn’t been easy though. Rahul admitted to having learnt some useful lessons during the layoff. “It was a tough phase, but having said that, this phase has made me hungrier. It has also made me disciplined towards fitness, disciplined about myself and how I take care of myself. I’ve realized that as good as I am on the field if I’m not fit then I cannot play. I can be the best player in the world, but if I’m not fit I don’t make the team. That’s the simple rule,” he had had said a while back.

Well, Rahul returned to the field and scored runs, 182 in two innings, spent 318 minutes in the middle with the bat in hand, ran 38 singles in all and fielded for a little over 50 overs in Rajasthan’s short first innings. Now the Test beckons the fit-again lad.

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