India opener KL Rahul once again became a butt of jokes on social media following his third consecutive failure in the ongoing T20 World Cup in Australia. KL Rahul who made 4 and 9 in his two previous outings against Pakistan and the Netherlands, was dismissed for 9 off 14 balls against the Temba Bavuma-led side at the Optus Stadium in Perth on Sunday. With yet another failure, KL Rahul's form, or the lack of it is one of the major concerns for Team India. However, fans have already started demanding his ouster from the Indian playing XI after his third single-digit score in as many matches. But more than his failures, his intent is being questioned by both fans and cricket pundits. More often than not KL Rahul has looked tentative in the middle, something former cricketers have pointed out as the prime reason behind his undoing in the prestigious competition Down Under. Some Indian supporters suggested that India would do well to replace KL Rahul with wicketkeeper batter Rishabh Pant who has been warming the bench all this while.
They opined that Rishabh Pant's ability to play aggressive cricket will help India find early momentum against strong teams like South Africa. Additionally, a left and right batting combination at the top of the order will pose problems for opposition teams, considering the other opener Rohit Sharma was a right-hander.
With KL Rahul's poor run of form showing no signs of ending soon, netizens flooded Twitter with memes and had fun at the India vice-captain's expense.
— abhishek singh (@ABHISHEK_O0O) October 30, 2022
— Nitin (@itsnitin98) October 30, 2022
— Saurabh Pandey (@sanguinesaurabh) October 30, 2022
— Robin (@ItsRobinhere_) October 30, 2022
Former India opener Wasim Jaffer too wasn't impressed with KL Rahul's performance against South Africa in Perth and even suggested that it was time the team management thought about bringing Rishabh Pant as an opener.
“Going forward, do we stick with KL Rahul? Is there a change needed in the top-order? Sometimes, you are in a form where you’re unable to score runs and you’re failing continuously, then the pressure piles on you. Maybe Rishabh Pant can open the batting for India. That will be a spot for him, and Axar Patel comes back in for the next game (in place of Hooda). India will have to have a look on this matter. It is to be seen if they stick with KL Rahul, or do they want to change something at the top,” Wasim Jaffer told CricTracker.
“If Deepak Hooda was not going to bowl then Rishabh Pant would’ve been a better choice. He has played in this condition, he has got runs in Australia, and Deepak Hooda has not played in Australia. And if India was not going to use him as a spinner, then it would have made sense to play Rishabh Pant as an extra batter. It surprised me,” Wasim Jaffer noted.
1983 World Cup winner Sunil Gavaskar was critical of India's batting display against the Proteas and went on to blame the side's senior batters for the team's first loss in the T20 World Cup.
“I think, in cricket, you are going to have situations where catches are going to be dropped, run-out opportunities missed. What you really going to see is that we didn't score enough runs. On a pitch like this where there is going to be a little bit of a challenge for batters, I think you have got to play it smartly. I don't think we played smart enough cricket because if you had played smart cricket, we would have had a 150 on the board,” Sunil Gavaskar told India Today.
“For example, some of the dismissals that we saw show that they were perhaps concerned about the pace and bounce on the pitch and therefore trying to do something different. But it was difficult to do something different against a quality attack,” the legendary batter elaborated.
“Similarly, I think, Karthik getting out at that stage. I am not blaming them, I am saying generally saying that apart from Suryakumar Yadav, nobody played the kind of cricket with the experience that they had that would have helped us get those 15-20 runs more,” he added.
“Yes, let's not press the panic button at all. We have 4 points and 2 matches to go. 2 matches against opponents we should be able to win. You should never taken any team lightly, Bangladesh have given us a run for the money in T20Is. So we have to be careful against them, even Zimbabwe, the way they have played in this World Cup, we have to be careful,” Sunil Gavaskar concluded.