Mount Maunganui, February 11: KL Rahul made a brilliant hundred in the third ODI against New Zealand that powered India to a near 300+total. While making that century, Rahul became the owner of a unique record as he became the first Indian batsman to score a hundred while batting at No 5 or below in ODIs, a record also owned by former captain MS Dhoni.
Rahul batted at No 5 and made a 113-ball 112 at the Bay Oval that spurred India to 296/7 in 50 overs. Dhoni while batting at No 5 made 134 against England in 2017 and helped India post a mammoth 381/6 and eventually to a 15-run victory.
This was Rahul's 4th hundred in ODIs and it came in his 31st innings. With this, the Karnataka batsman overcame Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli as the batsman who touched four ODI hundreds in shortest time. However, the record belongs to another Delhi batsman Shikhar Dhawan, who made four ODI centuries in 24 innings.
En route to his hundred, Rahul also matched his senior statemate Rahul Dravid as only the second wicketkeeper batsman to score an ODI hundred outside Asia. This was also KL Rahul's maiden hundred across the formats in New Zealand.
Rahul has been in sublime form since taking over as the wicketkeeper batsman for India from the second ODI against Australia at Rajkot, a move made mandatory by an injury to Rishabh Pant. Rahul made an immediate impact in that match effecting three dismissals and cracking a quickfire fifty to propel India to a series-levelling win.
The success of Rahul in his dual role has prompted the team management to bench Pant for the time being and skipper Kohli had hinted that it would be the way forward at least for the foreseeable future. Rahul had also admitted that he was enjoying the new role and showed a lot of flexibility while showing willingness to bat in the middle-order or open the innings when the team needed it.