KL Rahul put on a show in the second T20I against Ireland in Dublin on Friday (June 29). The classy right-hander played a majestic knock of 70 runs in just 36 balls to script India's 143-run victory over Ireland. With this thumping win, the Men in Blue also clinched the T20I series 2-nil.
Playing in place of the regular opener Shikhar Dhawan, Rahul grabbed the opportunity with both hands. After losing his opening partner Virat Kohli (9 runs off 8 balls) cheaply, Rahul forged a 106-run stand for the second wicket with Suresh Raina. The duo punished the Irish bowlers by smashing a plethora of boundaries all over the park. While Rahul’s innings was laced with 3 fours and 6 sixes, Raina hit 5 fours and 3 sixes in his 45-ball 69.
Hardik Pandya (32* off 9 balls) and Manish Pandey (21*) together provided further impetus as India eventually finished with a daunting score of 213/4 in their stipulated 20 overs.
In reply, Ireland once again failed to stand up to the challenge of India's pacers and spinners. The hosts innings folded for 70 in 12.3 overs to hand India their biggest victory in T20I cricket (in terms of runs).
Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony after receiving the Man-of-the-Match award, Rahul said: "It was important for me to make the most of my opportunities that I get. It was a good wicket and I enjoyed batting on it. I came into the series with a good run in the IPL, so I just continued and enjoyed myself in the middle.”
"Getting time off gets me more determined to come back and make runs. It is important to use the time out to work on your cricket and technique. Whenever I am sitting out I try to work on coming back stronger. The kind of team we have, it is hard to stay in the side and take your place for granted," he added.
After this herculean performance, Rahul is likely to be a part of the playing XI against England. India’s tour of England will commence on Tuesday (July 3), with a T20I affair at the Old Trafford, Manchester. Although Rahul has never played in England, the 26-year-old is already looking forward to the stern test.
"I've never played in the UK before, and we know it will be challenging. That's what this young team has been doing for the last few years, and we will be up to the challenge. This series will also test our skills and character, so we are looking forward to that," KL Rahul concluded.
As far as India’s bowling performance is concerned – India’s wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (3 for 21) and Kuldeep Yadav (3 for 16) continued their red-hot form and accounted six wickets together in the second T20I against Ireland. Among the pacers, Siddharth Kaul (1 for 4) and Hardik Pandya (1 for 10) claimed wicket apiece whereas Umesh Yadav scalped 2 for 19 in his 2 overs.