IND vs SA 2022: “When two of your senior players get out early, then someone needs to handle the innings” – Ashish Nehra believes KL Rahul’s fifty will give him a lot of confidence 

Former Indian bowler Ashish Nehra feels that KL Rahul’s unbeaten fifty, despite not being among his best work, will give him confidence heading into the T20 World Cup. The wicket-keeper batter scored 51 off 56 deliveries in Team India’s eight-wicket win over South Africa in the first T20I on Wednesday, September 28.

The Karnataka-born batter had his work cut out while facing the South African pace trio on a grassy surface in Thiruvananthapuram. Rahul only scored 11 runs off his first 26 deliveries as India ended the powerplay at 17-1, their lowest score after six overs.

He slowly got into the groove during his unbeaten 93-run partnership alongside Suryakumar Yadav and reached the 50-run mark off the final delivery of the contest.

Opining that KL Rahul was well within his rights to take his time on a testing surface like this one, Ashish Nehra said on Cricbuzz:

“When two of your senior players get out early, then someone needs to handle the innings. Not that KL Rahul was in complete control, his playing style is completely different when compared to Suryakumar Yadav.”

Nehra added:

“He escaped a lot of close calls but remained not out, this will give him plenty of confidence. I think it is fine that he took his time because it was not like he was struggling on a flat pitch.”

A sluggish fifty in the first T20I marks KL Rahul’s third fifty since his return. He scored half-centuries in the final contest off the Asia Cup 2022 as well as the series opener against Australia last week.

South Africa made easy work of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli and had KL Rahul on the ropes as well, but left the foot off the pedal to allow India to claw their way back into the game. Spinners failed to make an impact on a surface that did not offer turn as the hosts secured an eight-wicket win.

Noting that the Indian batters assumed control of the run chase once the spinners came onto bowl, former Indian pacer RP Singh said during the same interaction:

“Indian batters played freely once the spinners came onto bowl. They are sound batters against spin bowling, they started to rotate the strike.”

Proteas spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi ended wicketless as they finished the contest with combined figures of 0-48 off 5.4 overs. Indian spinners, on the other hand, had an easy outing after the pace attack dismantled the South African batting unit in the powerplay itself.

“Seeing this pitch, Umesh Yadav must have also wished to be part of the playing XI” – Ashish Nehra

India went into the contest with a shuffled bowling unit. Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out due to a back niggle, which paved the way for Deepak Chahar. The absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar meant that Arshdeep Singh also featured. Among the players who could not find a spot in the playing XI was Umesh Yadav, who was added to the squad earlier today as a replacement for Mohammad Shami.

Stating that Umesh Yadav would have performed well on this surface, Nehra said:

“Seeing this pitch, Umesh Yadav must have also wished to be part of the playing XI. He used to bowl well in the powerplay on flat pitches as well.”

Nehra concluded:

“Had he bowled 24 outswingers on a Test match length, he would have troubled the batters a lot.”

The two teams will have a three-day break as they head to Guwahati for the second T20I. The contest is scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 2.

Was KL Rahul right in employing a cautious approach while chasing 107? Let us know what you think.

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