Regardless of it coming in a warm-up match, KL Rahul's century against Bangladesh has likely put him in the front of the queue for the No. 4 slot in the India middle order, with captain Virat Kohli saying the batsman's form was the "biggest positive" India would take into their first match of the World Cup, against South Africa on June 5.
Although Vijay Shankar was nominated by MSK Prasad, the chairman of selectors, as the choice for the No. 4 slot, Kohli hinted that the team management would be open to thinking of Rahul for that position.
"The biggest positive to come out of this game was the way KL batted at four," Kohli said after the outing in Cardiff. "All the other people know their role pretty well, so it was important that KL gets runs because he is such a sound player. He can get the scoreboard ticking and you saw that - a great example of the skillset that he has."
Although Vijay would have been the favourite to bat at No. 4, he hurt his right forearm on the eve of the first warm-up match against New Zealand and missed out. He recovered quickly and played the whole match against Bangladesh, but did not get a start with the bat and went wicketless. He is bound to feel unlucky if Rahul trumps him for a slot in the middle order.
Rahul himself was more composed, albeit happy that he might be in contention to play his first World Cup match. Asked if he was ready to bat at No. 4, Rahul chose to be diplomatic.
"It is a team game and you need to be flexible and be ready to bat wherever, or as a player you need to be ready to take up whatever role is given to you," Rahul said. "Every batsman who has played at this level knows how to handle pressure and knows how to handle the roles and responsibilities given to him.
"And it is a team game and everybody has been prepared for the last couple of years in a way where anything, any role can be given come a big game. All of us are prepared that way and nothing that is given to any individual now will come off as a surprise. Everybody has been tried and tested in different positions. As individuals, we have got a fair hit and know how to perform if a different role is given to us."
ALSO READ: KL Rahul stakes his claim for the No. 4 slot
It has been a challenging 18 months for Rahul, who has struggled in Test cricket since the South Africa tour last year. Even in ODIs, the team think tank had preferred the likes of Ambati Rayudu for the No. 4 slot until as recently as March.
Rahul then had to endure the embarrassment of being recalled from the T20I series in Australia in January after the BCCI suspended him along with team-mate Hardik Pandya for breaching the code of conduct after the pair made offensive and derogatory remarks on an Indian television chat show. Both players accepted their guilt allowing the board's ethics officer to let them off with a monetary fine.
Rahul accepted that he was humbled by the incident. Rahul Dravid, the former India captain and now India A coach, provided help when Rahul was part of the 'A' series against England Lions where he struck good form. He carried that forward in the IPL where he was the best batsman for his franchise Kings XI Punjab. And then, in April, he was picked in the World Cup squad.
"Time-out from the game gives a player an opportunity and time to reflect on himself and his cricket. It wasn't any different for me," he pointed out. "I got some time to spend with friends and family, which was so important because I've been on the road for a long time. Given the situation, that's not what I wanted to get some time off. Anyway I tried to make the best use of it, I felt like there were a few things with my batting and technique I needed to fix.
"I worked with my coach back home in Bangalore and the India A games gave me a little time with Rahul Dravid to just speak to him about mental preparation and how to handle pressure and how to handle low confidence and low form. The best way to get back to scoring runs is to find that form in the middle and I got that opportunity. So from there I just carried on and I knew that my batting was fine and I was very hungry to come back and score runs for whatever teams I played."