KL Rahul bounced back to form with a match-winning knock to help India defeat Australia by five wickets in the first ODI, of the three-match series at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday. The stylish right-hander, who lost his Test vice-captaincy and was also dropped from the XI after the first two Tests against Australia, played a leading role in India’s victory in the series-opening ODI.
Chasing a target of 189 runs, India reached 191/5 in 39.5 overs, courtesy of an unbeaten knock of 75 runs off 91 balls by Rahul. Rahul also smacked seven fours and a six. Ravindra Jadeja, in his comeback ODI, also played an important knock of 45* off 69 balls, packed with five fours.
The duo stitched an invaluable unbeaten stand of 108 for the sixth wicket to take India to victory. India were in a spot of bother after Mitchell Starc (¾9) and Marcus Stoinis (2/27) reduced the hosts to 83 for 5 at one stage but Rahul and Jadeja showed admirable patience, absorbed the pressure and kept the scoreboard ticking.
Earlier Australia were bowled out for 188 in 35.4 overs, with Mitchell Marsh top-scoring with a knock of 81 runs off 65 balls. Mohammed Shami led the Indian pace department by taking a three-wicket haul. He was ably supported by Mohammed Siraj, who also scalped three and Ravindra Jadeja, who got the big breakthroughs of Marsh and Glenn Maxwell.
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After the match, Rahul received plenty of praise from experts and fans, who had lashed out at him during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. One of them in particular was former India pacer Venkatesh Prasad, who was extremely critical of Rahul due to his poor form in Test cricket. He wsa even involved in a heated social debate with former India opener Aakash Chopra.
However, Prasad took a u-turn after the first ODI and heaped praise Rahul. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “Excellent composure under pressure and a brilliant innings by KL Rahul. Top knock. Great support by Ravindra Jadeja and a good win for India. #INDvAUS”
Many fans on Twitter noticed Prasad’s tweet, and it sparked a memefest. Fans trolled the former cricketer for his earlier criticism and his sudden u-turn. Here are some of the reactions:
During the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Prasad made several critical remarks on Rahul’s selection and performance. In his tweets, he stated that Rahul’s presence was denying chances for other talented cricketers. “I have a lot of regard for KL Rahul’s talent and ability, but sadly his performances have been well below par. A test average of 34 after 46 tests and more than 8 years in international cricket is ordinary. Can’t think of many who have been given so many chances”, Prasad wrote in one of his earlier tweets.