India vs South Africa, 1st Test: KL Rahul cements Test slot with vital ton | Cricket News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: KL Rahul (101; 137b, 14×4, 1×6) unfurled a classy, controlled hundred in difficult conditions in Centurion on Wednesday. It’s not just about Rahul stealing the hearts of Indians fans with his seventh Test hundred away from home — he has got just one at home in 25 innings — or becoming the first non-South African to get two Test tons in Centurion, or scoring his second successive ton at SuperSport Park. This innings was characterized by his alertness.
For example, Rahul stole a bye in the 66th over of India’s innings under the nose of SA wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne. Rahul, who is keeping in Test cricket for the first time, observed that the rival specialist keeper, a veteran of 74 first-class games, is passing on the ball to the slip cordon without looking at the batters.

Rahul started his run from the non-striker’s end when the ball was released from Gerald Coetzee’s hands. And by the time the slip could react to a passed ball from Verreynne, he had reached the striker’s end for a bye. Of course, Rahul’s idea was to get debutant Prasidh Krishna off strike for the remaining three balls of the over.

Rahul has picked himself up well after the heartbreaking loss in the World Cup final against Australia in Ahmedabad last month. He has scored 56 and 21 (in ODIs) and 101 (Test) on this tour of South Africa.
Batting overnight on 70, Rahul embellished his hundred with an off driven four and a six off Kasigo Rabada over deep square leg. When Coetzee and South Africa tried to deny him a single off the last ball of the over by bringing the fielders closer, he jumped from 95 to 101 with a six over widish long-on. He scored at 4.4 per over, the rest of India batters at 2.9.

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Sunil Gavaskar, who held a Test record of 34 hundreds, rated Rahul’s hundred among the top-10 tons by Indian batsmen. If Rahul is that great a batsman, why is he averaging less than 35 in Test cricket? Because extraordinary contributions are bigger in value — like that stolen bye — not in math. Even a great like VVS Laxman would average less than 40 in his Test career if we don’t deduct his 34 not outs from his total innings.
Forget the numbers, just enjoy Rahul’s elegance. The way he watches the ball and plays it late. His ability to late cut spinners, and the dynamism of his pull shots. Former India coach and commentator Ravi Shastri said during a TV broadcast: “Rahul has cemented his place in the middle order whether he continues to keep wickets or not.”



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