Lokesh Rahul finally realized the virtue of patience in five-day cricket with a glorious maiden century on Day 3 of the Sydney Test on Thursday. After a horror Boxing Day Test debut at Melbourne, Rahul fulfilled a promise as India's latest opener with a classy century that kept the visitors afloat in the final match of the four-Test series. Rahul thanked his captain Virat Kohli for this dramatic comeback. (Scorecard | Day 3 Blog)
In a post-match chat with former captain Sourav Ganguly on STAR Sports, Rahul showed the same composure that helped him score a 262-ball 110, the time well spent at the middle being a hallmark of a man in classical Test mould. (Lokesh Rahul thanks Fletcher, Shastri for turnaround | Lokesh Rahul becomes Twitter sensation)
"After I failed on my debut Test at Melbourne, Virat told me not to stop breathing. He told me to believe in myself. I was quite low but he helped me emerge from it," Rahul said, adding that he did some soul-searching after two miserable innings at MCG. (Steve Smith in 'spidercam' catch controversy)
Ganguly loves newcomers. He was the man who buoyed the careers of a Yuvraj Singh, a Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh. For someone who built an Indian team, Ganguly was simply overwhelmed with Rahul's innings that blossomed from where he left overnight (31 not out). Rahul was watchful and in control of his strokes. He paced his innings with panache. (Virat Kohli's Aussie domination)
Ganguly's happiness probably stems from the fact that he sees a future in this Test team with the mercurial Kohli in the hotseat. Rahul could be an asset in Kohli's scheme of things. Assurance is key to win a captain's trust and Rahul's innings at SCG had a lot of it.
"It's great to see a good crop of players emerging. Rahul joins this list. (Cheteshwar) Pujara, (Shikhar) Dhawan, (Ajinkya) Rahane and Rohit Sharma is a good bunch and they will compete for places. Form should be the only factor," said Ganguly.
As for Rahul, Sydney was a great learning curve. In his 356-minute stay at the middle, the 22-year-old Karnataka batsman played 213 dot balls, a testimony to his willingness to play the ball on its merit.
With 13 fours and one six in a long-innings, Rahul justified his promotion as an opener. "I did well to leave some balls. At MCG, I was just too eager. Here at Sydney, I was keen to spend more time at the wicket," Rahul told Ganguly.
In Sydney as a TV expert, Ganguly is not willing to look too far ahead for Rahul. "He has a very good head, composed and the talent. It all depends on how he utlises his ability over a period of time," opined Ganguly. Time and consistency will be key.
Just like Ganguly, Sunil Gavaskar is full of praise for Rahul.
"He has a fabulous temperament. He was cool and collected and the shot selection was great," said Gavaskar, who said Rahul's running between the wicket needed more brakes. For a long-term prospect, that little blemish can surely be excused.