KL Rahul
KL Rahul (AFP Photo)

KL Rahul’s patchy form in 2018 continues. The top-order batsman scored just three off 18 deliveries in a tour match against a Cricket Australia XI on Thursday even as five India batsmen scored half-centuries ahead of the Test series that starts from December 6 in Adelaide.

In 18 innings so far this year, Rahul has managed 420 runs at an average of 24.70. Against an inexperienced CA XI attack, Rahul ended up playing away from his body, chasing a delivery well outside off to be caught at extra cover.

On a day when spending time in the middle was the order of the day, Rahul gave away his wicket cheaply and it would have certainly not pleased the team management one bit. And against Australia’s Test pace attack that boasts of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, Rahul has done more damage to chances of claiming a spot in the Playing XI.

India batting coach Sanjay Bangar has said the team is still to settle upon a opening combination. However, he does want Rahul, who is on his second tour of Australia, to take more responsibility. “He was looking in good shape,” Bangar said on Thursday. “It’s just that he’s finding new ways of getting out. Even today, the ball he was dismissed off, it was quite far, played away from his body, drove uppishly in the first hour which you would not expect an opener to do.”

Rahul scored his maiden century at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on India’s previous tour of Australia. Since then, he has played 31 Tests, scored 1848 runs at an average of 37.71.

Despite his recent failures, Bangar is hopeful of Rahul returning among the runs. “From where we are reading him and how he’s playing the ball, we know he’s just one hit away from returning to form. We know he has the capability. If he could convert that potential into performances, it will benefit the team. He’s not young, this is his second tour [of Australia]. He has played around 30 odd Tests. So he has to take some responsibility. We expect him to play accordingly and fulfill his role,” he said.