KL Rahul remains a strong contender to open the batting for India in next week’s first Test against Australia despite “finding new ways to get himself out”, in the words of Indian assistant coach Sanjay Bangar.
Rahul was the only prominent batsman to miss out on a significant score in India’s 358 all out on day two of the four-day tour game in Sydney. He was out for three runs while playing a loose drive on the up and was caught at mid off within the first hour of play.
As many as five different Indian batsmen, including Virat Kohli and Prithvi Shaw, scored half-centuries in what Bangar termed as a satisfactory outing.
Bangar said Rahul was no longer an inexperienced player and he ought to shoulder more responsibility.
We know his ability and if he converts that to performances then it is important for the team. He is not a young player any more and he is on his second tour here. He has played 30 Tests and he has a responsibility. We expect him to play with that responsibility and play his role for the team.
Bangar made it clear that the opening combination as well as the number six slot for the first Test in Adelaide beginning December 6 are still up for grabs.
He said the second innings will help decide about the composition of the batting line-up, with Rahul, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma and Hanuma Vihari in focus for the opening and number six spots.
“I would say there are still some spots to be taken. We will keep a close eye on how the second innings goes and it gives some other batsmen a hit especially Murali Vijay and middle order batsmen, and see how they go.
“There are certain spots to be taken still. We are looking at the opening slot as well as the number six slot. Those are the positions we are still looking at, we have not decided yet,” he added.
“Some went to New Zealand (as part of India A) with intention of getting accustomed to the bounce in their first game in Australia. It is different conditions in Adelaide because this is not a fast paced pitch as you would expect there (New Zealand) or in Perth. But we are out here to make most of whatever we get.
Asked about the quality of Cricket Australia XI’s pace attack, Bangar said that the visitors did not have any complaints.
“We understand that there are Shield games going on. We are pretty happy with what they put up against us. They put in a lot of effort right throughout the day and that’s what we are looking at.” Shaw set the tone early on and hit a carefree half-century. Bangar was all praise for the youngster who has pretty much nailed his spot in the playing eleven for the first Test.
“He has made a mark straightaway in whichever format he has played limited overs or first-class cricket, Irani Trophy, Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy or India A. He has shown he can adapt to the conditions and to the stage as well.
“He plays with a lot of clarity and the impressive thing about him is that he gets into good positions with clarity of mind and fearlessness of youth that helps him quite a bit,” said Bangar.