KL Rahul seems to have taken a liking for the MCA Stadium in Pune, as he followed his fifty in the first One Day International with a commanding century in the second game. The Punjab Kings skipper was the top scorer for India on Friday against the World Champions, however his efforts weren’t good enough to win his country the game as England roared back to level the series 1-1.
Bactting first on the day, India found themselves in a spot of bother with the score reading 37/2, with openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan both back in the hut. With Shreyas Iyer missing out due to injury, KL Rahul was promoted up the order to bat at four, and started the fightback for the hosts. Batting alongside captain Virat Kohli, Rahul stitched together a partnership of 121 runs as India managed to up the ante after a poor start.
Kohli was ultimately dismissed for 66, but Rahul stood tall as he continued to keep the scoreboard ticking with new man Rishabh Pant. Realizing the situation of the game, the 28-year-old batsman from Karnataka showed great restraint with his batting, sticking to the basics of the game and rotating strike regularly to avoid England’s bowlers getting on top.
Pant played the role of the aggressor, taking his chances against Adil Rashid and hitting him out of the park. Rahul too played his shots when the bowlers strayed from their lengths, hitting two sixes and seven fours in his innings. The duo added 113 runs in a little over 12 overs for the fourth wicket, putting India on course for a strong finish.
Tom Curran faced the full wrath of Rahul and Pant, as he ended with figures of 2/83 in his ten overs. In the 43rd over, the Punjab Kings captain nonchalantly flicked one to the leg side to get to the sixth ODI century. Despite his slow start on the day, Rahul managed to pick up his scoring rate to end with a strike rate of nearly 100. He was ultimately dismissed shortly after his ton, attempting to play a pull shot which only found the fielder at fine leg.
“Scoring runs makes you confident, and that's what you want to do. I was disappointed after the T20 series, but that's how the game goes. Few quality shots eased my nerves. Really happy I was able to build those partnerships with Virat and Rishabh,” said Rahul on his ton while speaking after the innings.
Despite his century though, Rahul wasn’t on the winning side on the day, as a solid century by Jonny Bairstow coupled with a quickfire knock by Ben Stokes helped England get over the line. The winning runs were scored by Dawid Malan with a pull towards mid-wicket, who performed admirably to end at 16 not out in his first ODI game in nearly two years.
The third and final ODI between India and England will now by played on Sunday, March 28.