Spotlight on under-pressure Rahul

Spotlight on under-pressure Rahul

LITMUS TEST: Karnataka batsman K L Rahul will be looking to notch a good score in Mysuru against England Lions to impress the national selectors. Reuters File Photo

Having found his touch last week, opener KL Rahul will look to register a big score with an eye on the reserve opener's slot for the World Cup as he leads India 'A' against England Lions in the second four-day game, starting Wednesday.

Rahul, who was sent by the team management to the India 'A' set-up to find some form, scored 89 in the opening four-day game against a good Lions attack and another strong show will keep him in good stead before the squad selection for the Australia series on February 15.

India 'A' did earn the bragging rights in the first Test with Gujarat opener Priyank Panchal hitting a double hundred and wicketkeeper KS Bharat scoring a hundred at Wayanad in the drawn encounter.

Rahul, Panchal and Bharat will look to continue their good run with the bat while Abhimanyu Easwaran, who missed out on a big score, along with Ankeet Bawne, will aim to find form.

The out-of-favour Karun Nair will also be aiming to keep himself relevant having done precious little in the past few months.

The India 'A' bowlers did well to restrict the Lions to 340 despite allowing them to get off to a solid start. Speedster Navdeep Saini shone with a five-wicket haul and the others, including comeback man Shardul Thakur, sweated it out.

The team's think-tank may consider giving former Test bowler Varun Aaron a go in this match given that the India selectors are looking at genuine quick bowlers with an aim to broaden the pool.

The visiting batsmen defied the India 'A' bowlers on the final day of the first 'Test' to force a draw and will be eyeing an improved performance.

Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope, who have played Tests for England, did well in Wayanad and will hope to get going again while captain Sam Billings, who didn't have a very happy outing, will be expected to hit form again after his impressive displays in the ODIs earlier.

The bowlers were put to sword by Panchal, Bharat and Rahul, and will have to step up in this game. It remains to be seen if left-arm spinner Danny Briggs, who bore the brunt in the first game, gets a second chance.