KL Rahul played one pf the most memorable innings by an Indian batter in South Africa on Wednesday as the side put up a decent 245 in the first innings of the first Test in Centurion. The batter almost waged a lone battle scoring 101, while the next best individual score was 38 by Virat Kohli. Battling lean patch in Tests for a while, KL made a comeback playing on a tough Centurion surface, coming to the crease at 92/4, the middle-order batter batted for most of his knock with lower middle-order/lower-order batters to register a memorable comeback ton.
He scored 101 in 137 balls, with 14 fours and four sixes, striking at a strike rate of over 75. KL Rahul, for the latter part of his innings, stitched crucial stands with the tail-enders. At one point of time it looked like KL Rahul would not be able to reach the century mark with India losing its ninth wicket in the 66th over by Gerald Coetzee. Prasidh Krishna then came on to the crease and South Africa had a chance for a run out on the third ball.
However, South Africa wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne missed the run out chance as he threw the ball, which had slid down the leg side, towards the slip fielder rather than throwing it at the stumps with KL Rahul running towards the striker’s end. In that very over, KL Rahu hit a six to reach the century mark. Had he or Krishna been run out, the batter would have been able to score a ton. “And this was the moment we will remember for a while. KL Rahul showing great awareness. The keeper is clueless, the bowler understandably livid,” Sanjay Manjrekar said while commentating on Star Sports.
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Now, KL has become the first visiting batter to score multiple hundreds at Centurion, with his knock of 123 in 2021 being his first century at the venue.
KL has joined Pakistan’s Azhar Mahmood, Sri Lanka’s Thilan Samaraweera and India’s Virat Kohli to score at least two centuries by an Asian batter in SA. Sachin Tendulkar is at the top with five hundred.
In South Africa, KL has played six Tests, scoring 357 runs at an average of 32.45, with two tons and a fifty in 11 innings.
The batter has been great for India in testing SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) conditions, having smashed five of his eight Test centuries in these conditions. One century has come in Australia, and two have come in England.
KL Rahul’s special relationship with the Boxing Day Test continues. In his first-ever Boxing Day Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), KL made his Test debut, though he failed to make an impact.
In his next Boxing Day Test at Centurion in 2021, KL smashed 123 and 23 to guide India to a 113-run win over South Africa.
Now in his third Boxing Day Test, he has smashed a century on his Test comeback in testing conditions.
Before this, KL also made a successful ODI comeback after battling injuries. He played a crucial role in India’s Asia Cup triumph (169 runs in three innings) and ran till the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup (452 runs in 10 innings with a century and two fifties).
This year in international cricket, KL has scored 1,199 runs at an average of 59.95, with three centuries and seven fifties. His best score is 111*. A T20I return is left for him at this point.
Coming to the match, India was put to bat first by SA and the pacers made India struggle, reducing them to 24/3. Then a partnership between Virat Kohli (38 in 64 balls, with five fours) and Shreyas Iyer (31 in 50 balls, with three fours and a six) lifted India out of trouble, adding 68 runs.
Later, a brief counterattack by Shardul Thakur (24 in 33 balls, with three balls) and KL Rahul’s resilient 70* in 105 balls, with 10 fours and two sixes helped India to 208/8 at the day one end.
KL then slammed his century on day two and took India to 245 all out.
Kagiso Rabada (5/44) Nandre Burger (3/50) and Marco Jansen (1/52) were among the wickets for Proteas. Gerald Coetzee also took a wicket.
With ANI inputs
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