Returning after four-month injury lay-off, India’s wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul smashes unbeaten 111 off 106 balls against Pakistan in Colombo
KL Rahul during his 111 not out v Pakistan yesterday. Pic/AFP
Kannur Lokesh Rahul was in the dumps for four months with a serious injury that required surgery. And just when he seemed totally mended, he suffered a niggle that put his comeback in doubt. But with determination and rehabilitation, he fought back and got the nod to play in the Asia Cup.
Though he was not available for the first two games, when he got the opportunity against Pakistan, the Karnataka batsman made the most of it, hammering a scintillating run-a-ball century to put India in a strong position. His form and fitness augurs well for Team India both, in the ongoing Asia Cup, as well as the World Cup to follow.
Rahul’s story over the last four months is inspirational. On May 1, while leading Lucknow Super Giants against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Lucknow, he suffered a serious hamstring injury while fielding. He was having an excellent run in the IPL and with a lot of international cricket to follow, was looking forward to having a productive season. But he needed surgery and after rehabilitation at the NCA Bangalore, he was well on his way to top fitness, but just before the announcement of the Asia Cup team, he suffered a niggle not related to the original injury. The Indian selectors and team management however, were so confident of his form and fitness that they still picked him for the Asia Cup as well as the World Cup. There was talk on social media that he was getting preferential treatment, but the team management stuck to their decision despite Rahul not being available for the first two matches of the Asia Cup in Pallekele.
Then, on the eve of the Super 4 match against Pakistan, some felt Rahul would replace wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan in the playing XI. Eventually, Rahul was included in the side, but at the expense of Shreyas Iyer, who, according to the team management, suffered back spasms during the warm-up just before the match. Rahul grabbed his lucky break with both hands. Unbeaten on 17 on the first day when rain forced the match into the reserve day, Rahul took the lacklustre Pakistani attack apart.
After Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill had provided a solid platform with a partnership of 121, Rahul continued the attacking intent. The Pakistan bowling was depleted by the absence of Haris Rauf, who suffered a niggle and did not take the field on Monday. Yet, nothing can be taken away from Rahul’s innings. He was more fluent than Virat Kohli, with whom he had a massive unbeaten 233-run partnership.
“I’m happy to be back in the team, get back that rhythm of playing for 50 overs, batting for a long time against quality attack and getting back that adrenaline. We are playing some quality teams in the coming days,” Rahul told bcci.tv, adding that his injury phase was frustrating.
“I felt I could come back before the Asia Cup, but I developed a small niggle that pushed me back two weeks. There were ups and downs during recovery. However, I was ready mentally, and that helped me a lot in my comeback,” he added.