It’s hardly a secret anymore; donning the wicket-keeper’s gloves in India is not the easiest of the jobs out there. As it is, the task of deftly collecting the ball and following its wide-angular trajectory is quite a challenge in itself. The fact that most of the Indian pitches assist in the ball’s lateral spin movement further complicates the matters. If those points weren’t enough, then there’s the extra, added expectation of prolonging the legacy of the legendary MS Dhoni. Not to mention, there’s quite a long-list of candidates eagerly awaiting their chance to don the coveted ‘keeper’s gloves. Fair to say, the scope of error present in the job is virtually null!
Few months back, Dhoni’s incumbent successor Rishabh Pant had learned of this fact in a rather unsavory matter. Today, it was Pant’s replacement KL Rahul, who got a bitter-bite of this reality. Rahul, who normally features in the side as a pure-batsman, had to shoulder the extra-responsibility of regulating the field behind the stumps today, after Pant endured a hit on the helmet while batting. Needless to say, his wicket-keeper’s ‘debut’, of sorts, was a baptism by fire for the young Karnataka batsman.
Rahul’s missed opportunity
The moment of highlight came during the 25th over of Australia’s batting. Opposing captain Aaron Finch and David Warner appeared well set to take the game away from the hosts with their power-packed batting; which they eventually did. However, there could’ve been a slight-different ending to the story if Rahul could’ve held on to a golden-chance of comeback. Off the very first ball of his over, Ravindra Jadeja succeeded to produce a rare inside-edge off Warner’s bat. A big wicket was in the offing; except Rahul fumbled behind the stumps and couldn’t even get a glove on the ball. Jadeja held up his head in disappointment; his reaction conveyed the general sense of frustration in every fan’s head as the ball raced away to the boundary.
But the reaction from Jadeja couldn’t even come close to the way the Wankhede crowd reacted. As soon as the umpires signaled the boundary, loud chants of ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’ could be heard from multiple corners of the stadium. While there was no indiscipline as such that could potentially disrupt the play, it took some time before the noises subsided. Here are some videos of the incident:
— Darsh Brahmbhatt (@darsh164) January 14, 2020
KL Rahul misses the ball
— Vinesh Prabhu (@vlp1994) January 14, 2020
As mentioned earlier, this isn’t the first time that an incident of this sort occurred. Back in Delhi at the T20 against Bangladesh last year, Rishabh Pant had received a similar treatment when he had erred behind the wickets. Captain Virat Kohli had conveyed his disappointment about the situation in a few conferences, while BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had expressed his own opinions about the issue.
Rahul’s dismal day behind the stumps in a way summed up today’s match for team India in general. Batting first, a tweaked India batting-lineup wobbled on their way before being bowled out for 255. Opener Shikhar Dhawan high-scored with 74 runs, while Rahul, who normally plays as an opener, batted at 3 and played an important innings of 47 runs. Australia gave a strong proof of the tough customers that they are, as they batted hyper-aggressively while also succeeding to lose any wicket. In the end, both the openers finished with centuries and handed the Indian team their first 10-wicket loss in almost 15-years. With this win here at Mumbai, Australia lead the 3-match ODI series 1-0. The next match will be played on Friday 17 January, at Rajkot’s Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.