ANI Photo | KL Rahul continues golden run as middle-order batter with icey 97 against Australia in World Cup

Indian batter KL Rahul continued his golden run in the middle-order, silencing his critics with a clutch performance under tough conditions and pressure during the ICC Cricket World Cup campaign opener against Australia at Chennai’s Chepauk stadium on Sunday.
The partnership between Virat Kohli and KL Rahul helped India to secure a six-wicket victory over Australia at Chennai’s Chepauk stadium to kickstart their ICC Cricket World Cup campaign with a win.
Before his return from injury during the Asia Cup, KL was written off by many as a player who just could not play under pressure and nerves got better of him. Various important Test matches, must-win games in the ICC Cricket World Cup/ICC T20 World Cup, mostly in knockout stages served as a reminder of how the Karnataka batter had just not fulfilled his potential and solidified a legacy for himself with some match-winning performances.
But since his return, a match-winning ton against a high-profile Asia Cup match against Pakistan, two fifties against Australia in the ODI series and now finally this match-winning 97* against Australia in the World Cup opener are giving some promising signs for future. With a lot of cricket matches in schedule, hope has been reignited that Rahul will shine more often in pressure situations.
Amid all the hype about his return and trolling on one or two bad innings, a lot of fans have still not noticed his brilliant run in ODIs this year as a middle-order batter.
In 14 ODIs this year, he has scored 628 runs at an average of 78.50 and a strike rate of over 86. He has scored a century and five fifties in 13 innings, with the best score of 111*.
A lot of his big knocks have come under pressure. Be it his 64 and 75* against Sri Lanka and Australia in small, but tense run chases after a quick fall of wickets, his half-centuries in the final ODI series against Australia before World Cup, or even his much-talked about century against Pakistan and 39 runs against Sri Lanka in Asia Cup, KL has delivered many gems as a middle-order batter this year, which have sometimes slipped under the radar of sizeable number of fans.
KL has clearly taken a liking to the middle-order role. In 11 ODIs at number four spot, he has 481 runs at an average of 60.12 and a strike rate of above 88. He has two tons and two fifties here, with the best of 111*.
The number five seems to be perfect for him. In 21 ODIs at this position, he has 904 runs at an average of 56.50 and a strike rate of above 96. He has a century and eight fifties in 21 innings, with the best score of 112.
He has batted in the middle-order this year. Overall at these above positions in 32 ODIs, he has 1,385 runs at an average of 57.70. He has scored three tons and 10 fifties in the middle order, with the best score of 112.
This is way better than his returns as an opener, scoring 915 runs in 23 innings at an average of 43.57. He has three centuries and six fifties as an opener, with best score of 111.
KL the middle-order batter is an experiment that is giving India some match-winning returns. Can he guide India to the World Cup? Could this be the tournament where he comes good under pressure mostly? It would be interesting to see. (ANI)

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