KL Rahul
KL Rahul in action against Sri Lanka in the 2nd T20I in Indore on December 22.IANS

Opening batsman KL Rahul is not part of India's One Day International squad which was recently picked for South Africa tour. However, the youngster take heart from the fact that head coach Ravi Shastri rates him highly.

Yesterday (December 24), India defeated Sri Lanka by five wickets to claim the three-match Twenty20 International series 3-0. Rahul was one of the chief architects of India's clean sweep.

The Karnataka right-hander scored 61, 89 and 4 in the series to be the second highest scorer behind captain Rohit Sharma.

Rahul, 25, is an integral part of the Test side. He features in T20Is too. However, with Rohit, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane preferred for the opening slots in 50 overs, Rahul has missed out.

After the match in Mumbai, Shastri was asked by former India batsman and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar about the top order being in form, he called it a "big headache". Shastri praised Rahul as one of the "most improved" players in world cricket in last 18 to 20 months.

"A big headache for us (with the top order doing well). He (Rahul) is a class player, he has got time. He plays the quicks well. He has got all the shots. Like I have said time and again, if you look at the last 18 to 20 months, for me, he is one of the most improved players in world cricket. It was good to see the way he came back and struck the ball," Shastri said.

The coach's words of encouragement will be a big boost for Rahul and he is likely to get his chance in ODIs soon. He has not played an ODI since August 31 this year.

From next month, India will play South Africa in three Tests, six ODIs and three T20Is. The first Test commences on January 5 in Cape Town.