India coach Rahul Dravid says they are shutting out criticism of KL Rahul and backs the opening batsman to come good at the T20 World Cup.
India’s vice-captain has failed to get into double figures in three matches as the tournament in Australia moves towards the business end.
India play Bangladesh in Adelaide on Wednesday in a tough group led by South Africa. India are second and will take a significant step to the semi-finals with a win.
Rahul’s scores of four, nine and nine have been a major talking point after the team went down to the Proteas in their previous match, but Dravid is unfazed by the chatter.
“I think he is a fantastic player. He has got a proven track record,” Dravid told reporters of the under-pressure Rahul. “He is actually playing really well and I’m hoping it all clicks together in the next three or four games.”
Former India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer was unimpressed with Rahul’s technique at Perth after he fell to South African quick Lungi Ngidi.
“Their first problem is opening batsman KL Rahul, who is terribly out of form,” Engineer wrote in a column for Khaleej Times.
“The way he was out, it was like he was giving catching practice. He just glided the ball into the first slip. An opening batsman doesn’t do that!”
Pressed further on Rahul’s form, Dravid said: “We don’t get swayed by what is said outside.
“We have the confidence and belief in our players, especially in this T20 format, which is such a high-risk format that you are asking people to play a high-risk brand of cricket.”
An elegant top-order batsman, Rahul has played 43 Tests, 45 ODIs and 69 T20Is for India since making his five-day debut in 2014.
He averages just under 38 in the T20 format with a strike rate of 138.75 and Dravid said: “He is suited for these conditions, these pitches.”
India remain unbeaten against Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup, winning all their three previous meetings. But Dravid said they take no team for granted in the shorter format.
“We respect them a lot, they are a very good team,” said Dravid. “This format and this World Cup has really shown that you can’t take any team lightly.”
Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan called his side clear underdogs, but if they beat India they will leapfrog their more fancied opponents.
“India is the favourite team. They came here to win the World Cup. We are not favourites and we didn’t come here to win the World Cup, so you can understand the situation,” said Shakib.
“We know it very well, if we win against India it will be called an upset and we will try to play our best cricket and make an upset.”
© Agence France-Presse