KL Rahul © Getty Images
KL Rahul has been selected with an eye on the future © Getty Images

KL Rahul became the 284th Indian to don the Test cap. The Karnataka opener was called up for the Boxing Day Test against Australia, ahead of Suresh Raina, Naman Ojha and Wriddhiman Saha, a move that seems to be taken with an eye on the future. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at some other Indian batsmen who made their debuts overseas and managed to rise to the challenge.

The axe had to fall on Rohit Sharma following a couple of uninspiring performances in the last two Tests. With him out, one would have guessed Suresh Raina as his likely replacement. The southpaw enjoys the confidence of the team management and his recent performances show that he has worked on his technique. Then there were Naman Ojha and Wriddhiman Saha, two wicketkeeper batsmen who have shown good batting talent. The Indian team has done well to hand a cap to KL Rahul, the 22-year-old Karnataka opener with an eye on the future.

It isn’t very often that frontline Indian batsmen make their Test debuts overseas. Stuart Binny had made his debut in England earlier this year, but was mainly picked as an all-rounder and batted at No. 8. The last time top order batsmen made their Test debuts overseas was back in 2011 when Abhinav Mukund and Virat Kohli were handed caps against the West Indies in Jamaica. Some of India’s finest batsmen have made their debuts overseas and it has worked well for India. Though there may be a school of thought which may support the initiation of batsmen in friendly conditions at home, their true test is abroad and if that goes well, they more often than not go on to make it big.

Here are some facts pertaining Indian batsmen making their Test debuts overseas:

–          A total of six Indian batsmen have made centuries on Test debut overseas. Abbas Ali Baig was the first man to do it in 1959. Raina was the last one to make a ton on Test debut away from home. He achieved it against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

–          Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid also made their Test debuts overseas. Gavaskar for two fifties in Trinidad in 1971 when India registered a famous victory. Dravid was unlucky to miss out on a ton when he was dismissed for 95 in his first Test.

–          Sourav Ganguly hit 131 on Test debut against England at Lord’s in 1996. Virender Sehwag also announced his arrival with a ton in South Africa.

–          Though Sachin Tendulkar did not succeed on Test debut in Karachi, he managed a decent tour against an inspired pace attack in Pakistan.

–          Vinoo Mankad also made his Test debut overseas and marked the occasion with a fifty.

As you can see, some of the doyens of Indian cricket have made their Test debuts away from home. The cream comprising — Mankad, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid and Sehwag were in fact put in alien conditions. But as is the case, the talent rises to the top irrespective of the challenge on hand.

So far, Rahul has shown he is a class act. The pitches in domestic cricket tend to be in favour of the seamers and he has had a very successful time. He also had a good outing with India A on tour to Australia earlier this year, although it was on a good batting surface. In all likelihood, he will bat at No. 6 instead of his preferred opening spot. Nevertheless, he can take heart from the various success stories of the past and endeavour to produce a good effort.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)