India batsman KL Rahul is in scintillating form at the moment. Rahul was excellent as an opener for India, scoring two half centuries in the T20Is against New Zealand. When asked to bat at no. 5, he smashed 80 runs in 52 balls in the ODIs against Australia last month. The batsman was asked to do the same in the 1st ODI against New Zealand, and he hammered an unbeaten 88 in 64 balls. But despite Rahul showing signs of success at no. 5, is this the best batting position suited for the Karnataka batsman in the ongoing New Zealand tour?
Rahul has the 2nd best batting average among all the Indians in the period after World Cup 2019. He is also the 4th highest run-getter among the Indian batsmen in this time period. But numbers suggest that he has a better record as an opener away from India.
Rahul’s batting average as an opener is more than twice better outside India. He has scored 7 half centuries outside India in his career, and 6 of them have come when he has opened the innings for India. When Rahul does not open the innings, he also faces lesser number of balls – his balls faced per innings ratio deduces from 65.64 to 19.44.
Rahul’s record in chase is also better when he opens the innings. When Rahul does not open the innings, his batting average is 5 times worst in run chases than when he opens the innings. His batting strike rate is almost two times worse in the 2nd innings as well.
But with Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw being tested as openers in the ODIs in Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma’s absence, it looks like than Rahul might have to adjust to his new batting position. It seems unlikely India will drop Shaw or Agarwal to make way for Rahul on the top. Also, when Dhawan and Rohit return, it is likely the two will resume their opening positions, and Rahul will still be left at the middle-order, unless Kohli decides to make a hard call to bring the Karnataka batsman back to the opening position.