Sanjay Bangar has criticized KL Rahul for his mode of dismissal during the warm-up game between India and Cricket Australia XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The right-hander was dismissed cheaply for three runs as Prithvi Shaw (66), Virat Kohli (64), Cheteshwar Pujara (54), Ajinkya Rahane (56) and Hanuma Vihari (53) all spent valuable time in the middle ahead of the first Test against Australia which begins on December 6 in Adelaide. The assistant coach of the Indian cricket team said with Rahul having played 30 Tests, he now has a responsibility to play sensibly and ensure he makes every opportunity count.
“Rahul looked in good shape. He is just finding new ways to get out. The ball was afar when he played away from his body and lost his wicket. However, he is reading the ball well and he is one hit away. He is not a young player anymore and he is on his second tour here. We expect him to play his role for the team,” Bangar said after the end of the day's play.
Bangar added that the opening combination as well as number six slot is up for grabs in the Adelaide Test. Vihari, who made his debut at The Oval and scored a fifty, could be India’s No.6 in Adelaide after his gritty fifty here. However, the opening conundrum has deepened with Prithvi Shaw’s injury. The 19-year-old right-hander landed awkwardly on his left ankle and the injury has ruled him out of the first Test. With Murali Vijay not getting a game, Shaw’s injury could result in him making the squad along with Rahul.
Rahul has struggled for consistency in all formats in 2018. In the series against South Africa, he averaged just 7.5 in two Tests. Against England, he hit 149 in the Oval Test but apart from that knock, in nine innings, he managed just 150 runs. In the Tests and ODIs against West Indies, Rahul failed to put up a significant contribution and struggled even in the two Twenty20 Internationals against Australia.
The Karnataka right-hander made his debut in the 2014/15 series against Australia and he had a horror debut, scoring 3 and 1 in the Melbourne Test. However, Rahul made amends by scoring a century in the Sydney Test.