Though India ended 2022 on a bright note with a hard-fought three-wicket win against Bangladesh in the second Test at Dhaka, the questions around stand-in captain K.L. Rahul form with the bat cannot be ignored.
Rahul averaged only 14.25 across four Test innings -- scoring 22, 23, 10 and 2 - in the 2-0 series sweep over Bangladesh. Veteran wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik believes Rahul's average in Test cricket, which currently is at 34.26 from 45 Tests since his debut in 2014, is unacceptable for an opener in the longest format of the game.
"I would give K.L. those couple of Test matches, but if things don't go KL Rahul's way The one thing that does go against him is the fact that he has played over 40 Tests and his average is just mid-30s. That is not acceptable for an opener. That is one of the lowest among Indian players for sure, who have played 35 Test matches," Karthik was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.
India's next assignment in Tests will be against Australia in a four-match Test series, starting February 3 onwards in Nagpur. Karthik feels that the series, played for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, will be a do-or-die one for Rahul and if the right-hander fails to register big knocks in the four matches, then other openers should be considered by the Indian team.
Apart from the first-choice pair of Rahul and regular skipper Rohit Sharma, there's Shubman Gill, who got his maiden Test hundred against Bangladesh. Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran is another option considering his truckload of runs for India A, apart from Yashasvi Jaiswal scoring big runs in domestic cricket.
"That is something that he needs to definitely work on. That will be on his mind. If he wants to cement his place in the Test team, he needs to get a couple of hundreds against Australia. Otherwise, you can definitely see a change, with Shubman Gill doing so well," added Karthik.
India's 2-0 series triumph over Bangladesh helped them solidify their second place in the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) standings. India are now only behind Australia in the WTC standings, leaving them in a good position to feature in back-to-back finals if they manage to win either two or three Tests and draw the remaining two games against Australia to ensure they finish above South Africa.