KL Rahul: An Interlude Of See-Saw Six!

The first impression is the last impression’ – Of all the proverbs, I reckon this one is a tad more exaggerated! The first impression is surely a lasting one and its imprint is deeper than the subsequent ones. However, with the passage of time, it fades away and all that counts is the present. We all change and the world’s view-point regarding us follows suit. Cricket often deemed to be a way of life, resonates with the above philosophy.

And I haven’t noticed a more rapid fluctuation in people’s perception about a certain player than KL Rahul’s! From being labelled as a spoiled brat post the infamous coffee spill to subsequently essaying the role of an opener in WC’19, from the media highlighting streaks of Sir Viv Richards in his approach to Sanjay Bangar publicly lambasting his technique – Well, his career graph has oscillated from crests to troughs without the slope being constant. Movie producers! Here’s goes the script for a blockbuster hit – An Interlude Of See-Saw Six!

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The title sequence rolls in the flashbacks as the date reads – 28th Dec’14. It’s the third day of the traditional Boxing Day test set at the colossal MCG. On his debut, in walks our protagonist in a position of relative stability. India is 409/4 with the Australian 1st innings lead diminished to 121. An Indian defeat seems unlikely now! He accounts for his maiden international run on the first ball he faces. Feet moving swiftly, his defence conceals the nervousness, if there’s any!

Next, he attempts a premeditated break-the-shackles shot by charging down the crease to Nathan Lyon. This awkward swivel is dropped at square leg. Maybe it’s the beginner’s luck that presents him a second life. The very next ball, he aerial sweeps again only to pop up a dolly for the man at fine leg. The curtain draws upon his short and not so sweet stay at the stage. Little did he know about the power and prowess of Nathan Lyon. That too in his own den!

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Was the pressure of ‘Moving Day’ to accelerate or his urge to stamp his authority on the opposition? Let’s put it down to the enormity of the occasion which resulted in this atrocious shot selection. The second innings was a replay of his ‘Brain Fade’ moment with the only contrast being that he came in at number 3. His half-hearted pull against the steaming Johnson received even severe criticism. The need of the hour was to bat time & not lure into chasing the far-fetched target of 384 on the last day! 

It was hell for me!’ Rahul has no qualms accepting the mental demons that troubled him the week following Melbourne. A combined paltry return of 4 runs from 13 balls shouldn’t be nitpicked. Even test regulars underperform occasionally, let alone the blokes who are blooded into the squad. However, the clumsy manner in which he operated was alarming. Imagine the plight of the national selectors or for that matter, everyone who stood by him since his junior days & vouched for his mettle. They would have spent sleepless nights too!

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The ruthless Australian media would have surely splashed headlines like ‘Go Kiddie, Play In Your Backyard!’ or ‘Rahul – The Lone Boy In Men’s Club!’ He was 22 then. Certainly not one of those instant U-19 stars to be catapulted into the elite league, he had served his time at the domestic circuit. This fact pinched me the most! Being accustomed to the opener’s spot for his state team, he did bat out of his comfort position. Did that break his rhythm? 

Questions aplenty, answers were to be searched as the action moved to Sydney. Dhoni called it quits and Dhawan was left out. So, he was asked to open the innings. And the new year brought in new fortunes. Survived a straightforward run-out opportunity. Harakiri mix-up, as they say! A looped-up edge hit the spider-cam. He was prepared to look ugly. Most importantly, he was prepared to respect the bowlers. And by the virtue of his grit, the words ‘K.L. Rahul 110 India’ was etched at prestigious honours board of SCG.

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A cent innings was crafted in Sri Lanka, another one was manifested at the shores of the Windies. 199 against the Brits and 6 fifties in a 4 test home series against Aussies – On the back of such reliable consistency, he did seal the opening spot. If you assume the narrative is smooth-sailing from this sequence, you’ll be caught off guard! ‘Twist in the tale’ ran a bit longer for his liking. Tours to South Africa, England & Australia in 2018 undid all the building reputation. He was again made to look ‘out of place’ when the red cherry repelled his middle of the bat. Our main lead was replaced, his ‘bromance partner’ Mayank Agarwal was given the role. That too in Melbourne. Such is life!

Fast forward to the current scene – In all likelihood, the Big G’ is set to be the grand stage for Rahul after an interlude of six see-saw years. Rahul of ‘14 wouldn’t have related to Rahul’20. Life happened in between! On a lighter note, long locks & braided hair have taken a back seat and there isn’t any increment in tattoos either. Now conceived as an ideal ‘Team Player’, the comparisons with his namesake ‘Rahul Dravid’ have resumed its course. Quite intriguing how the cosmos time & again gifts us a clean slate. A chance to erase the past and start afresh. All that will matter is how he manoeuvres his test career from here on. He has evolved into a white-ball genius. It’s futile to defend the contrary of this statement. However, history books like the purists, seek the records in the pious form. Can he set them straight? The climax is stated to premiere tomorrow. Do tune in!

Featured Image: KL Rahul | Instagram

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