‘Biggest Culprit Was Virat Kohli’s Replacement…’: England Legend on Stylish India Batter Missing Out on a Century

Last Updated: January 27, 2024, 09:18 IST

KL Rahul celebrates after reaching half-century in Hyderabad. (AP Photo)

KL Rahul celebrates after reaching half-century in Hyderabad. (AP Photo)

KL Rahul produced a sublime show with the bat for India on Day 2 of their first Test against India but fell short of a century by 14 runs.

India may have marched ahead of England in the first Test in Hyderabad but their batters were quite ‘generous’ feels Michael Atherton having thrown away their wickets.

Nearly all India batters, barring Ravichandran Ashwin, made a good start but none could touch three figures. However, they played with intent and perished in their efforts to score quickly.

Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal scored 74-ball 80, his opening partner Rohit Sharma made 27-ball 24 while No.3 Shubman Gill was out on 23 off 66.

KL Rahul, who batted at no.4 – a spot left vacant in the absence of Virat Kohli. He made it count and scored a sublime 86 off 123 but Atherton feels the India batter could have converted it into a big score.

Atherton feels that someone like Kohli wouldn’t have been so ‘generous’.

“They (England) were fortunate that India’s top order were in a generous mood but the situation at the close was very bad even so, and could have been even worse, Atherton wrote in his column for The Times. “It is hard to imagine that Virat Kohli would have been as obliging as his team-mates were here, and the biggest culprit was his replacement at No 4, the stylish and gifted KL Rahul, who had a hundred for the taking before hammering a long-hop from Tom Hartley into the deep.”

Atherton wrote he was surprised at how England deployed Jack Leach who was sparingly used on Day 2 despite being their lead spinner of the tour.

“The most puzzling aspect revolved around the deployment of Jack Leach, England’s most experienced spinner. Until now, Leach has been something of a pet project for Ben Stokes and, in response to the many shows of faith, Leach has responded by growing in stature and confidence,” Atherton wrote.

Leach bowled 16 overs on Friday while other spinners including part-timer Joe Root did the heavy lifting as India piled on the runs.

“Here, though, he (Leach) was sparingly used, bowling only two overs in the morning and seven in the afternoon, the latter spread over three spells. All told, he bowled 16 overs in the day in six spells, his longest being of four overs,” Atherton said.

“This clearly required some explanation, given the medical team were said to be happy with his bowling loads in training in the run-up to this series, with the obvious proviso (mine not theirs) of a lack of match practice, given England’s decision to train in Abu Dhabi rather than play competitive matches in India,” he added.

England spin coach Jeetan Patel has revealed that Leach is struggling with a serious knee injury.

India had reached 421/7 at the close of play on Day 2, extending their lead to 175 runs in reply to England’s 246-all out.

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