With pressure mounting on K.L. Rahul following his poor run of form, including in the second Test at New Delhi, India captain Rohit Sharma hinted at the team persisting with the right-handed opener, saying if a player, whether it is him or anyone, has got the potential, will get a longer rope in the team.
Since January 2022, Rahul has just one fifty-plus score while his last Test hundred came in December 2021 against South Africa. In the Delhi Test against Australia, Rahul was dismissed for 17 in the first innings and made just one in the chase of 115, coming after making a laborious 20 in Nagpur.
With Shubman Gill waiting in the wings, Rahul, who is also India's vice-captain in the Test team, is under pressure to hold on to his spot. "Of late, there has been a lot of talk about his batting.
But again, for us as team management, we always look at any individual's potential, not just K.L, in the past. If the guy has potential, he will get an extended run, not just about KL, it's anyone.
If you look at a couple of hundreds he's got in overseas, one of the best knocks was at Lord's, batting on that damp pitch after losing the toss and put in." "Playing in England is never easy and (he) put in a great performance, even Centurion was a great performance.
Both performances resulted in India winning both games. Again, talks about the potential he has. Talks have been there about him, but it was clear from our side that he needs to go out and play his game and do what he can to do the best that we have seen him do over the years."
"Of course, when you are playing on pitches like this, you need to find your method of scoring runs. We are not going to look too much into what one individual is doing; it's about how everyone needs to come together because it's an important series for us and a big one as well.
So, that's my thought on KL," said Rohit in the post-match press conference. After India won the second Test by six wickets to take a 2-0 lead in the four-game series and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, head coach Rahul Dravid had said to broadcasters Star Sports that Rahul will continue to be backed by the team management.
"I think he needs to trust his processes. This is just a phase, he has been one of our most successful overseas openers. He's got hundreds in South Africa and England, we'll continue to back him."
"I believe he has the quality and class to come out of this. It is great working with this unit, managing formats is the most difficult part. But there's not a lot of technical coaching, just simple conversations and challenging them, and giving them a pat on the back when they do well."
Former India fast bowler Venkatesh Prasad, a constant speaker on Rahul's poor form on social media, tweeted that Rahul needs to have a stint in playing County Cricket in England, but raised doubt over whether he can skip IPL 2023, where he is captain of Lucknow Super Giants.
"A few people think I have something personal against KL Rahul. Infact, it is the opposite. I wish well for him and playing him in such form was never going to enhance his confidence.
For him to earn his place back in Test cricket, now that the domestic season has ended," Prasad said. "Rahul needs to play County cricket in England, score runs and earn his place back, much like Pujara did when he was dropped.
Playing Test Cricket for the country and doing everything possible to get back in the form will be the best answer. But will it be possible to skip the IPL?" India's third Test against Australia will be played from March 1-5 at the Holkar Stadium in Indore.