Rahul doesn’t mind a longer rope for misfiring KL
Indian batsman KL Rahul

Guwahati: There have been numerous instances when batters faced the axe, not only after hitting a century but even a triple century, in their previous outings, Take, for example, Karun Nair, the second Indian batter to hit a Test triple ton after Virender Sehwag. Or current Bengal minister Manoj Tiwary, who had to wait seven months after smashing his maiden ODI century, to get his place back in the side.

But there are a few ‘special’ players who, despite consecutive failures at the top level, are backed by the team management. And who better than KL Rahul to boast of such backing?

Even after three consecutive single-digit scores in the ongoing T20 World Cup, India’s head coach Rahul Dravid showed faith in the fellow Bangalorean, ahead of the crucial Super 12 match against Bangladesh at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday.

“We know his quality and ability, he is very well suited for these conditions. He has got a good all-round game and he has a very good backfoot game which is required in these conditions. We are happy with the way he has been hitting it. In words and in action, we have shown in the last year that we fully back KL Rahul,” Dravid said while addressing reporters at the pre-match presser.

“There is no doubt in mine and Rohit’s (Sharma) mind who is going to open the innings for India tomorrow. KL has our full backing and we know what he is capable of,” the batting legend added.

The 30-year-old has so far totalled 22 runs from three outings, but for head coach Dravid, there are no concerns about the opener’s approach in the tournament.

“In these conditions, we are able to afford him that time. We have no concerns about him, we completely back him. When he gets going, I know the impact this guy can make,” he said.

Now that the coach has assured him of a longer run, it is time Rahul responds to the faith when India walks out to take on Bangladesh at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday. And as such, India will hope for a stellar start from the top order, without leaving the rebuilding job for the middle order.

Placed second in the table, the men-in-blue can’t afford to let their guards down, especially after the demoralising 5-wicket loss to South Africa in pace-friendly Perth. Also, having lost just one T20I against Bangladesh, India will undoubtedly start as favourites but must guard themselves against any complacency.

While the team management is expected to take a call on Dinesh Karthik’s injury update on Wednesday morning, they have a ready replacement in Rishabh Pant, in case the 37-year-old fails to recover on time. However, Karthik batted in the nets on Tuesday.

“This morning, Dinesh Karthik came to practice. We will assess his fitness tomorrow. Our belief is to back the guys,” Dravid said.

Suryakumar Yadav has been India’s batting mainstay in the tournament so far, but he will expect some company, unlike the contest against South Africa, where he ran short of partners, thanks to a reckless approach from the other batters.

The bowling unit has delivered in every game and considering the number of left-handers in the Bangladesh line-up, the off-spin of Ravichandran Ashwin and Deepak Hooda could be the preferred option.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, has already met their pre-tournament expectations by recording wins over Zimbabwe and the Netherlands, besides being humiliated by South Africa. However, they are no pushovers and have the pedigree to upset any top side on their day.

All said and done, both sides will hope for a full game despite predictions of rains in the evening!

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