Elegance, classy, old school these are the words that would describe Rahul. He sees the ball, hits them but with elegance. He adds a pinch of perfection and glamour to the strokes that looks pretty any day. He does it day in and day out. That is something which keeps him going.
The end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 wasn’t a great year for Rahul. He has been in and out of the team, he was suspended for his comments on a TV show, things went berserk. He had a poor show against Australia and his potential weakness against the incoming deliveries muddled his performances.
He couldn’t keep up to what he had promised initially. There were times he threw his wickets away and sometimes, he made a mockery of his wicket. He couldn’t be trusted. He became the third wheel for Dhawan and Rohit.
The suspension time really did help him to change his technique a bit. He promoted sweeps, scoops and reverse sweeps to his preferred list and managed to taste success. He countered the incoming deliveries, maybe didn’t rule them but had it enough to defend it. He unleashed his monster to defy the ghosts that were holding him back.
His monster did put him in better mind space, to understand how he is blessed to get an opportunity despite multiple players waiting outside to grab the same opportunity. He was grateful but hungry. He was hungry for runs, hungry for victories, hungry for attention. He was hitting the deliveries dead right and every single delivery smashed the doors of the selectors. He kept doing that on purpose until it became a headache for them. He wasn’t a one-match wonder. He was a class apart. He kept proving it whenever he had an opportunity. It is always difficult to ignore power. It is always difficult to ignore elegance. Rahul was producing them both. He was piercing the bowling attack, gracefully. He kept the scoreboard ticking with his ability to pick the gaps.
Rahul brings his textbook shots to play which he borrowed it from Virat Kohli and added his own recipe to cook a good mixture of elegance filled grace cakes. He adds timing to the cakes and it turns out well every single day, every single shot.
He can pull right before the stumps, hit a ramp shot, reverse sweep a good delivery, hammer the ball dead-straight. The cakes he delivers is not just sweet but it is a drug. An addiction. The highest dosage of drugs is his late cuts and cover drives. His stance to his game is what the icing is to the cake. You cannot just ignore them. Delicious, isn’t it?
He comes as a complete package. Get him in anywhere you want, he keeps the scoreboard ticking accordingly. Get him in and make him do whatever you want, he will do for the team. Maybe because he wants to survive. In the team. For the team.
Maybe he draws inspiration from the other Rahul from Karnataka who has been that sort of player for India. Maybe the team takes the new Rahul granted as it did for the older one. The older one loved those challenges. The older one loved being there for the team, taking the bullets in any form. The older one loved being in the shadows of other players and made sure they didn’t fall. Maybe the new Rahul is here to continue the tradition. Maybe, it is too early to decide. Maybe not. Maybe he might fall flat. But hey, Rahul loves challenges, doesn’t he?
He will keep things going or at least, let’s hope he does.