India vs England: KL Rahul silences critics with fifth ODI century
KL Rahul registered his fifth One-Day International (ODI) century during the second ODI between India and England on Friday.
Rahul struck two sixes and seven fours in a well calculated hundred. On reaching the 100-run mark, he produced his signature celebration: covered his ears in jest as he received a standing ovation from the excellent dressing room.
He was coming off a frustrating run in the Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). In the last five T20I innings, Rahul had scores of 14, 0, 0, 1, and 0. However, Virat Kohli backed him ahead of the ODI series, saying Rahul would bat in the middle-order. Safe to say, Rahul did not disappoint his skipper. In the previous game, he scored a half-century. These two back-to-back excellent knocks would have silenced his critics.
Rahul, who had not played Tests in Australia, scored his first international hundred since February 2020. It was also the first time the Karnataka batsman scored a century while batting at No. 4. Even though the position has not suited him naturally, Rahul has been proving a crucial player in the middle-order for Team India.
"It was a hot day and it was important for us to get a partnership. Really happy with what we have achieved after 50 overs. Scoring runs makes you confident, and that's what you want to do. I was disappointed after the T20 series, but that's how the game goes. Few quality shots eased my nerves. Really happy I was able to build those partnerships with Virat and Rishabh," Rahul said during the innings break on Friday.
When asked about his signature celebration, Rahul said," It (the celebration) is just to shut out the noise, not to disrespect anyone. There are people out there who try to pull you down, at times you need to neglect them. So that's just a message to shut out that noise. When Virat and I were batting, we needed anything around 300, so happy with this total."
After being asked to bat on Friday at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune, India lost an early wicket as Shikhar Dhawan was sent back to the pavilion in the fourth over of the day. At 37 for 2, following Rohit Sharma's wicket, Rahul walked in and joined skipper Virat Kohli at the crease. The two put up 121 runs for the third wicket, changing the course of India's innings. Kohli scored his 62nd half-century in the ODIs as he put up 66 off 79 balls before getting out in the 32nd over.
Following the skipper's dismissal, Rishabh Pant came out to bat and took charge. Rahul played second fiddle to the wicketkeeper-batsman as the two shared a crucial 113-run stand, taking India closer to 300. Even after Rahul got out, Pant carried on. He went on to hammer seven sixes and three fours to score 77 off 40 balls before Tom Curran dismissed him in the 47th over. A quick-fire innings from Hardik Pandya, where he struck four sixes and a four, powered India over 300. Krunal Pandya and Shardul Thakur remained unbeaten on 12 and 0 and India finished the first innings at 336 for 6 in 50 overs.