K.L. Rahul prepares for make-or-break Test

K.L. Rahul batted once in Coolidge in the lead-up to the first Test, scoring a brisk 46-ball 36 including five fours and a six. Whether Rahul fits into the XI remains to be seen.

Since his debut in Melbourne in 2014, Rahul has played 34 Tests and scored 1905 runs with five centuries and 11 fifties.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The first Test between India and the West Indies gets underway at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua from August 22, with the two-match Test series serving as India’s foray into the maiden World Test Championship (WTC).

With Cheteshwar Pujara scoring a hundred and Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari tuning up with half-centuries in the tour game against West Indies A, the focus will now shift to the playing XI. While numbers 3 (Pujara), 4 (Kohli) and 5 (Rahane) pick themselves, the opening remains a matter of debate. 

Mayank Agarwal, opening the batting in the warm-up match, was out cheaply (12 and 13) in both innings but is likely to retain his spot at the top of the order, especially after a well-crafted 76 against Australia on Test debut at the MCG last year. 

This means, either Hanuma Vihari or K.L. Rahul could complete the opening combination. While Vihari has given a good account of himself in the limited opportunities — Vihari has opened only once in Melbourne — he has got (4 Tests, 167 runs, 23.85), all eyes will be on Rahul. 

This series could well be a make-or-break moment for him. Since his debut in Melbourne in 2014, Rahul has played 34 Tests and scored 1905 runs with five centuries and 11 fifties.

India, in the meantime, has played 48 Tests between 26 Dec 2014 and 20 Aug 2019 and while Rahul has had chances coming his way, the Karnataka right-hander is yet to cement his place in the Test squad.

His last outing in Test whites was when India toured Down Under in 2018 for four Tests, where he managed just 57 runs in five innings. But with India's youngest opening sensation Prithvi Shaw getting suspended for consuming a substance banned by WADA, Rahul will hedge his bets. 

He batted once in Coolidge in the lead-up to the first Test, scoring a brisk 46-ball 36 including five fours and a six. Whether Rahul fits into the XI remains to be seen.