The President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Sourav Ganguly on Saturday batted for KL Rahul when he said that a player of the Punjab skipper’s calibre deserves a chance in all formats. The former Indian captain added that he ‘has a lot of time’ for a player of K L Rahul’s calibre to gain a foothold in Test cricket.

A debate sparked when KL Rahul was included in the all the squads for India’s tour of Australia that starts on November 27 and goes upto January. Critics including Sanjay Manjrekar argued that the Kings XI Punjab opener shouldn’t be rewarded because of his fine form in white ball cricket. The BCCI must give the Ranji players a chance at this level, he said.

“You set a bad precedent when you recall a player for Tests on IPL performance, especially if the player has been an abject failure in his last few Tests. Whether that player succeeds or fails is irrelevant, such selections massively demotivate Ranji players. #INDvsAUS,” Manjrekar said in a tweet.

Rahul’s red ball average in the SENA countries has been below par, with him not being selected in the squad that went to New Zealand earlier this year.

“KL Rahul in his last 5 Test series – v SA – Avg 7.1, – v Eng – Avg 29, – v WI at home – Avg 18, – v Aus – Avg 10.7, – v WI – Avg 25.4, I say very lucky to get a recall based on IPL and white ball performance. But now let’s just hope he makes the most of this chance. Good luck to him!” Manjrekar added in another tweet.

However, Rahul who has owned the orange cap in the 2020 edition of IPL, ended the season with 670 runs at an average of 55.83. He will also be seen as Virat Kohli’s deputy in the limited overs series and Ganguly, who is impressed by his captaincy, believes that it is the correct decision, PTI reported.

“I have a lot of time for K L Rahul in Test matches and I am saying that as a cricketer. But, at the end of the day, it is the selector that decides who plays and who doesn’t play,” Ganguly said on India Today’s programme ‘Inspiration’.

While most of Rahul’s runs for KXIP came in a losing cause, Ganguly hoped that his runs for India would result in wins.

“Just as somebody who has played the game, I feel he (Rahul) is someone, who will contribute in all forms of the game. I wish him all the luck. Hopefully, he contributes to the winning cause of India which is important.” As he had stated earlier also, Ganguly stressed on the fact that the Virat Kohli-led team needs to perform better when they are playing in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries.

“He (Virat) must sit back and understand that he has to play better away from home. Yes, Australia was a good series that they he had won (in 2018-19) but they should have done better in South Africa, England (both 2018) and New Zealand (2020),” Ganguly said.

India aced the Border-Gavaskar trophy in 2018-19, where Cheteshwar Pujara scored more than 500 runs in four tests. Virat and Rushabh Pant were the other centurions. The bowling unit, especially the pacers responded well to keep the visitors dominant throughout the tour. Ganguly said that the key to winning an overseas series lies in batting well, which happened in Australia during the previous tour.

“They are a capable side and they must have learnt from that. Everyone has to bat well. We lost in England because no one got Test match hundreds apart from Virat Kohli, Pujara. We won in Australia because Pujara got you 500 runs, Virat got a hundred, Pant got a hundred. That’s how you are going to win the series. Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon are good bowlers,” he said.

The BCCI President added that it will be Virat Kohli’s responsibility to get the best in players. He said that the bowling unit has a lot of quality with three world-class pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma and two young quicks Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj in its ranks.

“They need to fight hard and buckle down. This is a good side and everyone has to get together to beat Australia in Australia. So India has the attack, it’s about Virat working with them and getting them to be at their best.”

“It’s for him to decide as captain whom he wants to attack with and which stage he wants to attack with — whether it’s an Ashwin or a Bumrah or Saini, or Sharma or Jadeja. It’s his captaincy skills,” he added.