UPDATED: March 17, 2021 14:57 IST
Virat Kohli reclaimed the No.5 spot in the ICC T20I rankings for batsmen after two stunning innings against England in the ongoing 5-match series. Kohli had been dismissed for 0 in the first match on March 12 but followed that up with scores of 73 not out and 77 not out.
However, KL Rahul, who has scores of 1, 0 and 0 in the T20I series so far, slipped to No.4 from No.3. Rahul was in top form in the T20I series against New Zealand in early 2020 and was named Man-of-the-Series.
In December, KL Rahul made 51 and 30 in the first two T20Is in Australia before running into really bad form. He now has 3 ducks in his last 4 T20I innings.
Despite KL Rahul’s lean patch, India captain Virat Kohli has backed him to continue as part of the team’s first choice opening combination alongside Rohit Sharma.
“Well I was going through a lean patch about two games ago. These things turn around very quickly. For us, he’s (Rahul) been a champion player. If you look at his stats in the last two-three years, they are probably better than anyone in world cricket in T20s.
“He’ll continue to be one of our main batters along with Rohit at the top of the order. We don’t have any concerns there. T20 is a game which is a very instinctive game. We know once he starts playing positively and a few shots come off, it’s a matter of five-six balls in this format and suddenly you’re back in this zone,” Kohli said after the 3rd T20I.
Rahul was averaging over 44 in the shortest format last year and had amassed over 400 runs from 11 games. He was the Player of the Series in the New Zealand T20Is and was the Orange Cap holder in IPL 2020 with 670 runs at a staggering average of 55.83.
But he has struggled this year ever since he came back to the squad after a wrist injury that he suffered on the Australian tour in December last year.
“Anybody can have a lean phase. Last one year, I think KL has been our best batsman in the T20 format. He’s averaging more than 40 with a strike rate of 145 (Rahul averaged 44.70 with a strike rate of 141.52 since January 2019 till the start of this series).
“So three failures does not change that fact, that he’s maybe the best batsman we have in that format, and he’s done really well for us in the past year,” India batting coach Vikram Rathour said on Tuesday.