The Indian management likes KL Rahul, and they have all the reason to do so. The right-hander has the talent and temperament to be successful at the International level; he has the technique to combat all conditions and he looks promising every time he strides out to take guard. However, despite all the credentials, his career has not really taken off.
He has played few breathtaking innings, but he has also been dismissed in the initial stages of the innings a lot. Rahul struggled to get going in England and could only manage 299 runs in 5 matches, which included a century in the final innings at Oval. He was then dismissed for a duck in the very first over on a flat deck in Rajkot.
Rahul under fire to perform
The opener now has the joint-most number of ducks for batsmen who play in the top order (1-3 position) in 2018. He shares this dubious record with Mominul Haque of Bangladesh. In 2018, he has bagged 3 ducks and has been sent packing for single-digit scores on 6 occasions in 8 innings. This is one dubious record he would want to avoid when he takes the guard in Hyderabad. India would ideally want a fit and firing KL Rahul when they take on Australia.
Not only this, Rahul's tally of 8 innings with 10 or below scores is the joint-worst this year for the top three batsmen in 2018. He shares it with South African opener Dean Elgar.
However, if we now step away from Rahul and take a look at the other batsmen, Cheteshwar Pujara has been in good consistent form. He was perhaps the second-best batsman in England after Kohli and scored a breezy 86 runs in Rajkot.
He now needs 105 runs to complete 5,000 Test runs. If he does get to this feat in the first innings in Hyderabad, he will become the fifth fastest Indian to breach this landmark after Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, and Sunil Gavaskar.
Ajinkya Rahane needs to start converting his starts and he should look to bat big. His conversion rate from 25 to 50 is 33.33, which is the second worst for India this year and this has impeded India's batting right through the year.
The Indian bowlers were brilliant in Rajkot and the pace attack has been in good wicket-taking form since the England tour. Mohammed Shami, who set the tone in the first innings in Rajkot, averages 20.79 against West Indies, which is the best among Indian pacers who have picked up a minimum of 10 wickets.