Euro 2020 Special

What Explains KL Rahul’s Poor Form In Test Cricket?

KL Rahul managed to retain his spot as the opener for the Indian team in the ongoing second Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, despite concerns about his form of late in the longest format of the game. The 30-year-old has failed to click in Tests both at home and abroad in recent years, and questions about his inclusion in the team above the likes of Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal have been raised by fans and pundits alike.

With yet another poor show in the first innings of the Delhi Test, KL Rahul’s continued selection in the team will attract further scrutiny, and it looks like the veteran Indian batsman’s days are numbered in cricket’s oldest format.

As India look ahead to clinching the World Test Championship trophy in June, here’s a look at KL Rahul’s poor form in Test cricket:


Surprisingly Low Statistics

KL Rahul is considered to be one of India’s most dynamic batsmen, regularly featuring in the headlines for his aggressive style of play and shot selection. The opener is especially prolific in limited-overs cricket, scoring seven centuries and 31 half-centuries across ODIs and T20Is for Team India. He is also considered to be one of the most valuable players in the Indian T20 League – ending the last edition of the tournament as its second-highest run-scorer. His dynamic approach in limited-overs cricket has propelled him to be the captain of Team Lucknow in the Indian T20 League and acts as India’s vice-captain in all formats of the game.

But KL Rahul’s success in limited-overs cricket has not translated well into the longest format of the game. Despite playing 47 matches for Team India in red-ball cricket, the opener has scored just 2641 runs at an average of 33.85. The statistics are even more appalling when considered against the backdrop of India’s success in recent years, with the Men in Blue becoming the dominant force in world cricket both at home and abroad. In the eight innings he played in 2022, KL Rahul averaged a mere 17.12 runs – the lowest among India’s top-order batsmen.

KL Rahul’s failure to spark in the Nagpur Test was remarkable – the 30-year-old scored just 20 runs in 71 balls while India’s captain Rohit Sharma piled on runs at the other end.


Problem With Approach

Several reasons can be attributed to KL Rahul’s poor form in the longest format of the game. While both ODI and T20I cricket have transformed themselves in recent years thanks to the proliferation of domestic leagues, Test cricket has been relatively untouched so far. Aggressive batting approach is one of the main reasons for the star’s inconsistency in the format – with poor shot selection costing him his wicket on numerous occasions.

India’s top-order has come under immense criticism time and again for their rash approach in the middle, with a sudden collapse completely altering the course of a game. KL Rahul is in particular guilty of this – throwing his wicket away for cheap to unnecessary shots.

In December 2022, KL Rahul attributed his poor form to the tight schedule that cricketers have to deal with throughout the year, switching between formats without sufficient preparation. While the overall issue of player fatigue and minimal rest is valid, the same applies to the rest of India’s batsmen who have fared well under the same conditions.

Another factor affecting the veteran’s form is the increasing pressure he is under to deliver in the format. Virat Kohli’s poor form over the last two years didn’t raise even a single question about his place in the team, with the former Indian skipper given adequate time to regain his form. But KL Rahul isn’t afforded that luxury despite being the team’s vice-captain, with his spot as an opener under constant threat from upcoming players.


Alternatives Waiting For A Chance

If KL Rahul doesn’t fare well in the second innings of the ongoing Test, it is more than likely that he will be dropped from the team for the remaining two Tests. As it stands, Shubman Gill is the top choice to replace him as the opener for India. The 23-year-old is in stupendous form over the past few months, scoring centuries in all three formats of the game last year. His century against Bangladesh in December was a masterclass in batting, with the opener hitting ten 4s and three 6s in the innings.

Mayank Agarwal is another suitable replacement at the top for Team India. The 32-year-old is in the form of his life in the Ranji Trophy, scoring 249 runs in the first innings of the semi-final for Karnataka. Mayank Agarwal has been in and out of India’s Test side over the past few years, as the Karnataka batsman failed to capitalise on the opportunities given to him in the past. But his statistics for Team India are much better compared to KL Rahul’s – with 1488 runs in 21 Tests, Mayank Agarwal averages a much better 41.33 in the longest format of the game.

Unless KL Rahul regains his form, his spot in the Test side is likely to be claimed by one of the above two players.




Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.