Insidesport Poll: KL Rahul benched again, is he getting fair deal from Indian team management?

India vs County XI Live: KL Rahul capitalises opportunity in middle-order with 50 as Mayank Agarwal fails as opener
India vs County XI Live: KL Rahul capitalises opportunity in middle-order with 50 as Mayank Agarwal fails as opener

Insidesport Poll : India vs Australia 2nd Test – Is it fair to bench KL Rahul ? :  India decided to bench KL Rahul once again as it announced the playing XI for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. His exclusion from the starting line-up, despite an opening slot available, has raised many eyebrows.

Cricket expert and commentator Harsha Bhogle pointed out the Indian tea management was looking for “the like for like replacement” then it was Rahul who should have been picked in XI as a replacement for Virat Kohli who is now in India for the birth of his first child.

“If Shaw had to be out and Gill in, the like for like replacement for Kohli (if possible at all!) was Rahul. But in principle, India have decided they want 5 bowlers. It is a big punt on the batting skills of Pant and Jadeja. I hope it isn’t the outcome of needing to play Jadeja,” he wrote on Twitter.

He also said that the playing XI for the 2nd Test “is an admission that they got many things wrong in the first test. Especially with the keeper & opener”. So, have the Indian team management made another blunder of picking the right opening combination?

Kohli before the starting of the Test series had said Rahul’s chances of making the XI boils down to combination. So, does Rahul, who scored a century in his debut Test series in 2014 against Australia, not fit in India’s opening combination or is Ravi Shastri not confident about him as top-order batsman? 

InsideSport asks following questions from the team management, will they answer ? 
1) What is the role of KL Rahul in the Indian test team ? – Kohli said before 1st test, ‘Rahul is our back-up opener’.  But who exactly he is backing for ? Out of form Prithvi Shaw was preferred for 1st test, now Shah gone – debutant Shubman Gill is given a chance – where exactly Rahul fits in as back up opener ? 
2) How can he make it to the Indian Playing XI ? – Rahul is not in XI when Kohli and Rohit Sharma are not in the team. Even Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill are preferred over him for the opening roles. In middle order, Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja are being drafted ahead than him – In these scenarios, how exactly Rahul can be in playing XI ? 
3) Is Hanuma Vihari better batsman than KL Rahul ? You will get your answers below – 
KL Rahul – 36 Tests / 5 Hundred – 11 50’s / 2006 Runs / 34.88 Batting average 
Hanuma Vihari – 10 Tests / 1 Hundred – 3 50’s / 576 Runs / 33.88 Batting average 
Ind vs Aus: KL Rahul as a Test batsman
Rahul, after his performance in 2012-13 domestic season where he was the highest run-getter, propelled himself into contention for an Inda Test cap. He made his debut against Australia on Boxing Day at the MCG in 2014. However, he crumbled under pressure and lost his wicket early. But when he was given his usual opening spot in the following Test in Sydney, the Karnataka batsman overcame his nervous jitters as he stroked his way to a patient century. 
He last played against Australia in 2018, where he opened in three of the four Tests. But he failed to make an impact scoring only 56 runs. Rahul, in his six years of Test career, has scored 2006 runs in 36 matches at an average of 34.59.
Rahul with him brings a lot of experience and also class in batting. Thanks to his Indian Premier League role as an opener, he has shown that he can change gears at will, which is something India lacked in the Adelaide Test. Furthermore, Rahul with the gloves is a great option and would have given Rishabh Pant a free hand to focus on his batting skills.
However, with Gill in for now, and Rohit Sharma becoming available from the third Test, he might be pushed further behind in contention of starting XI. His only chance of getting a start in the game is if Hanuma Vihari fails to score in Melbourne.
India’s playing XI against Australia for 2nd Test
The visitors will be taking the pitch with five bowlers and six batsmen. Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal will open for India. At No.3 will be Chetestwar Pujara, followed by Ajikya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari at No.4 and 5 respectively.
Ravindra Jadeja will also be making a comeback to the team as an all-rounder. Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj will make the tailenders of India.

Vodafone Test Series v India 2020-21 – Squad for both teams for 2nd Test Match

Australia Playing XI: Tim Paine (c), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade

India Playing XI: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj

The match starts at 5:00 am IST. Follow InsideSport for all the live updates and commentary of Ind vs Aus 2nd Test.