There were some brilliant individual performances from India players in the second T20 against England in Nagpur, which helped the home team win the match by five runs in a last-over thriller. Undoubtedly, the brilliance ofAshish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah during the death overs was the major highlight, but one should not forget the contribution of KL Rahul in the first innings, top-scoring with 71 runs.
Talking about Rahul, one should pat India captain Virat Kohli for showing faith on the opener, who was below par in the ODI series and also the first T20. There were speculations before the second T20 that Rahul would be dropped from the playing XI, opening doors for Rishabh Pant or Mandeep Singh.
However, Kohli, who even after the failure of the openers in the ODI series, backed them to the hilt, stating that they should be given time, decided to go ahead with Rahul for the second T20. The right-handed batsman paid back Kohli's faith with a great innings in Nagpur, which helped India score 144 runs.
There was no doubt about Rahul's ability with the bat, as he had showed in the past in all formats. It was just a matter of time to regain his form, and the Karnataka batsman looked in great touch in the second T20. The track was not one of the easiest surfaces to bat on, but Rahul, with his hunger to succeed and eagerness to silence his critics, produced a stellar of a batting performance.
Even the likes of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh struggled with their timing, but Rahul, it seemed, was batting on another surface. He was timing the ball brilliantly, and playing those big shots with ease. Though India's wickets were falling at the other end, Rahul was unfazed, continued his amazing display, playing shots all over the ground, aerially and also all along the carpet.
Rahul was batting with ease against the spinners, lofting them for sixes, while the seamers were also hit for boundaries. Even when boundaries dried up, he ran well between the wickets, converting ones into twos, hallmark of a fit player.
The 24-year-old player might have been disappointed after losing his wicket in the 18th over to Chris Jordan. He had connected the ball well, but it was hit straight to the fielder. Though the pitch was difficult for the batsmen, Rahul, the way he batted, could have finished with a ton. He scored 47-ball 71.
Even during the second innings, England batsmen struggled, showcasing Rahul's knock of 71 runs to be extra-special. Eventually, it was his splendid batting effort, backed by some quality bowling display from the spinners and then the seamers at the end, which helped India win the close match by five runs.