Skipper Rohit backs Rahul despite Test batting slump

NEW DELHI: India skipper Rohit Sharma backed his deputy KL Rahul despite an extended dry run that saw the opener fall for one Sunday during their successful second Test chase against Australia.

Rahul has failed to go past 23 in his past 10 Test innings and scored just 17 and one in the team’s six-wicket win inside three days at New Delhi.

The under-fire batsman remained unlucky in his latest dismissal after his shot hit the knee of the short-leg fielder and the ball lobbed to the wicketkeeper.

Social media was abuzz with memes lampooning Rahul’s dismissal. Veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle said it “might be time” for Shubman Gill to replace the deputy skipper in the third Test.

But Rohit said any batsman with potential will be guaranteed an “extended run”.

“It is not just about KL but anyone,” he told reporters.

“It was clear from our side that we want him to go out and play his game. We are not going to look too much into what one individual is doing, it is about how everyone needs to come together.”

Coach Rahul Dravid also backed 30-year-old Rahul to come good soon. Rahul has averaged more than 33 in 47 Tests since his debut in 2014 against Australia in Melbourne.

“I think he needs to trust his processes. This is just a phase, he has been one of our most successful overseas openers,” Dravid told broadcaster Star Sports.

“He’s got hundreds in South Africa and England, we’ll continue to back him. I believe he has the quality and class to come out of this.”

Ravindra Jadeja remained India’s hero for the second straight game after his international return from a career-threatening knee injury.

The left-arm spinner returned career-best Test figures of 7-42 and combined with Ravichandran Ashwin to pack off Australia for 113 in 31.1 overs.

Rohit lauded his man-of-the-match bowler.

“He has been brilliant. Comebacks are not easy but the confidence that guy has in his ability, that is massive. And you can see it on the field,” Rohit said of his champion performer, who passed 250 Test wickets in the match.

“There were times he was put under pressure but there was no sense of panic, he just kept relying on what he is good at and he kept doing that.”

The hosts have retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy in the four-match series and are now close to securing a spot in the World Test Championship final.

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