KL Rahul is the only player from the Zimbabwe tour, who will go to West Indies for the Test series © AFP
KL Rahul is the only player from the Zimbabwe tour to travel West Indies for the Test series © AFP

There were many heartening aspects from India’s comprehensive win over Zimbabwe in three-match One-Day International (ODI) series at Harare. Youngsters such as Yuzvendra Chahal and Karun Nair made their first international appearance and put up stellar performances throughout the series. Also, the swashbuckling fifty on debut by the 30-year-old Faiz Fazal impressed everyone, and would have done him a world of good. But, the standout performer for India was KL Rahul. He scored 196 runs from three matches, which includes a ton on debut. He is one of the few players, who was believed to be fit only for Tests, and the shorter formats were believed too farfetched for him. In about 2-3 months’ time, the young gun has put an end to all that. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Zimbabwe 2016, 3rd ODI at Harare

Rahul was phenomenal in an already star-studded batting line-up of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In 2015, he played for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), where he managed to score just 142 in his 9 innings at a strike-rate of 112.69 and a highest score of 44 not out. But what followed is not something many would have predicted. He smashed 397 runs from 14 matches at a strike-rate of 146.49 and average of 44.11. His performance was, however, overshadowed by the sheer genius of Virat Kohli, who just fell short of being the first player to score 1,000 runs in a single edition.

Nevertheless, Rahul’s contributions for RCB cannot be ignored. He also kept wickets for them and did a commendable job. He particularly did not make any glaring errors behind the wickets, and took all the chances that came his way. He is certainly turned into a versatile player over the last year or so. His idol Rahul Dravid was heavily criticised in the initial stages of his ODI career for not being able to score at quicker pace. Slowly but steadily, he too started adapting to the shorter formats and went on to score over 10,000 runs in ODIs. Rahul, in that regard, surely has a head start over Dravid. READ: After Tests, KL Rahul announces himself in style at ODI circuit

With the T20I series coming up, Rahul will again be expected to get India off to a good start. His swaggering IPL form will hold him in good stead to do so.

Rahul is surely not a flash in the pan. He has been one of the most consistent performers in the domestic circuit for Karnataka. In the two seasons Karnataka won the Ranji Trophy, Rahul scored 1,033 runs at 68.86 (2013-14); and in the season after that, he churned out 838 runs in 5 matches at 93.11. His call-up to the national side was not surprising, and he justified his selection by scoring a ton in Australia at Sydney (after a horror debut at Melbourne). READ: KL Rahul rises from T20 wilderness

Rahul is the only player from Zimbabwe, who will go to the Caribbean to play a four-match Test series against the West Indies. Not many can argue that he, in his limited opportunities, has done well. However, he will have to be consistent if he were to challenge for a permanent opening slot, with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay occupying that spot. Being a middle-order batsman for Karnataka, he will not hesitate in batting in that position for India as well, especially with questions looming large over Rohit Sharma’s position in the Test team.

In Rahul, India have a reliable player in the longest format as well, and he is more than capable of replacing either of them if needed. With the kind of start he has made in limited-overs international cricket, he will hopefully challenge Rohit and Dhawan in ODIs and maybe T20Is as well.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)