What's gone wrong with KL Rahul?

K L Rahul
K L Rahul fell for a duck in the third T20I against England. Photo: AFP

K L Rahul has struggled to put bat to the ball in the ongoing Twenty20 International (T20I) series against England. The opener has managed just one run from three matches. The Karnataka player has faced just 14 balls in his three visits to the crease and fell for a second successive duck in the third T20I at Ahmedabad on Tuesday night.

Rahul has been dismissed by three different bowlers – Jofra Archer, Sam Curran and Mark Wood – this series. What has gone wrong with Rahul who is usually a free-flowing batsman?

Rahul looks rusty to say the least. Prior to the series, the right-hander last played a competitive match against Australia in the third T20I at Sydney on December 8, 2020. Rahul was part of the Indian Test squad before he returned home in the first week of January after being hit on the wrist during a training session ahead of the third Test.

The long break has not helped Rahul's cause one bit. The 28-year-old did not get a chance to play in the four-match Test series against England which preceded the T20Is. The Indian think tank would have been better off releasing Rahul to play in the Vijay Hazare Trophy National One-Day Championship. This would have given him valuable time out in the middle than warming the benches and having nets sessions.

Rahul chopped one on to the stumps off Archer in the first T201. He was caught behind off Curan in the second game before being cleaned up a Wood special in the last match. Indian captain Virat Kohli had made it clear that Rahul and Rohit Sharma are the first-choice openers in T20Is. However, Ishan Kishan grabbed the chance with both hands by smashing a game-changing fifty on his debut in the second match of the series.

The Indian team management did well to accommodate Rahul in the playing eleven by dropping Suryakumar Yadav after the debutant did not even get a chance to bat in the second match. They also stuck with Rahul at the top of the order as Kishan was pushed to No. 3 spot and Kohli himself dropped to No. 4.

However, Rahul looked out of sorts and had no clue to an express delivery by Wood which came in sharply. Rahul has looked shaky and his footwork has been ordinary to say the least. He was caught in no man's land and the express pace of Wood and Archer has only compounded his problems.

K L Rahul
K L Rahul has been relieved of the wicketkeeping duties in the ongoing series. File photo: AFP

With Rishabh Pant back in the white-ball squad, Rahul has been relieved of the wicketkeeping duties. It remains to be seen whether the team management will continue with Rahul in the last two matches. India trail 1-2 and need to the win the remaining games to clinch the series. Rohit and Kishan as openers look the sensible option at the moment. India were quick to drop senior opener Shikhar Dhawan after he failed in the series opener.

There is no doubt about Rahul's class in white-ball cricket, especially in the shortest format. He remains vital to India's hopes of regaining the T20 World Cup at home later this year.

The IPL begins on April 9 and the Punjab Kings skipper will be looking forward to the marquee event to rediscover his regal touch.

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