Former India cricketer Farokh Engineer has heaped praise on KL Rahul, saying that the Karnataka batsman has it in him to become the next Sunil Gavaskar or Sachin Tendulkar. He also expects Rahul to play a crucial role in the forthcoming five-Test series against England, starting in Birmingham on August 1.
Speaking to Firstpost, Farokh said: "KL Rahul is superb. Rahul could be like Gavaskar or Tendulkar according to me. He has got the potential to be a great batsman. He is very talented. He plays with a straight bat and I am very, very impressed with him."
Rahul’s stocks as a versatile batsman have gone a notch above in IPL 2018. Playing for Kings XI Punjab, he finished the season with 659 runs from 14 innings and then continued his stellar show in international cricket. While Rahul hit a Test fifty against Afghanistan in Bangalore last month, he scored a blistering 70 off 36 balls against Ireland in the second T20I and a match-winning ton in the first T20I against England at Old Trafford.
However, Rahul couldn’t replicate the same performance in the upcoming matches and was eventually snubbed from the playing XI in the third ODI. He made an emphatic return in the warm-up match against Essex, scoring a dazzling 58 in the first innings and an unbeaten 36 in the second dig.
"Rahul will play a hell of a crucial role. KL Rahul will be a prime candidate. I will be very surprised and disappointed if he doesn't do well... (and I feel ) he will do well," Engineer asserted.
India captain Virat Kohli’s much-awaited county stint with Surrey came to a halt in May after he suffered a neck sprain and was subsequently advised by BCCI’s medical team to take rest. Apparently, Virat had picked up the neck injury during Royal Challengers Bangalore’s last league match against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2018.
Having played in the County Cricket professionally, Engineer believes Kohli would've benefitted from his stint with Surrey.
"When Virat Kohli was asked to play, it was a great thing for County Cricket. Someone like Virat Kohli coming would've bolstered the English game and it would've helped Virat immensely because the last tour of England wasn't too good for him, he was a failure with the bat. Jimmy Anderson was getting him every time. So this would've given him tremendous experience,” Engineer, who played for Lancashire, stated.
"Virat has improved a lot since then, so I am not saying that he will fare badly. But his preparation wouldn't be as nice as it would have been had he played for Surrey. You know that would've given him more confidence and batting is all about confidence," he added.
Engineer also believes that this is India's best chance to register a Test series win in England since the hosts themselves have an unsettled side.
"Absolutely. This is the best chance to win a series and we should win. I am not a gambling man but I would back our boys. I would back them through patriotism in any case but my gut feeling is that we will beat England in England because we have a very confident squad," Farokh Engineer opined.
"They love success and success brings success but I hope they don't play IPL cricket there and adapt themselves to Test cricket which is a different thing completely," he concluded.