India’s opening batsman KL Rahul has an iron will, after all he needed one.
Never certain of his place in the Indian team, he has grabbed every opportunity that he ever got. He bats with a swagger and finesse that even senior players envy him. With just 5 ODIs, 3 T20s and 8 tests under his belt, the youngster from Bangalore has adapted well to this Indian team. He enjoyed a success in India’s tour of West Indies and also the T20s in the United States. In an interview on his return, Rahul addressed a number of topics.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
What is the secret of your consistency in recent times?
There is nothing physical you can do to improve consistency. It is about the state of mind and how hungry you are to perform. After the South African series, where I didn’t play a game, we had a long break until the IPL. It was in those 4-5 months that I analyzed my one-year-old international career. I had done reasonably well, had scored a couple of hundreds, but I realized if I had to play all the three formats I had to be more consistent. What I do now is to take each game seriously and enjoy the process.
What was the biggest gain from the West Indies tour?
It was my approach to batting and attitude. The night before the Jamaica Test, I was reflecting on the last 100 I got in a day match. It was some 13 months ago in Sri Lanka and I hadn’t played a day-match since then. I decided I will do what I have been doing in the last six months. Even in the one-dayers or T20s, I’m never looking to manufacture shots. I told myself that it doesn’t change when you are playing Tests. The basics remain the same.
It has had a massive impact on my career. I have learnt so much from international players. In my debut season I learnt a lot training alongside seniors like Virat (Kohli), AB de Villiers, Zaheer Khan, Daniel Vettori and Chris Gayle. This year I got the opportunity I was waiting for – to bat at a fixed order at the top. At the beginning, I needed 6-7 balls to get into the groove but I knew it would change with a couple of good innings. I always had that belief. But for others to believe that I could perform in all the three formats, it needed consistent performance and that happened to me with this year’s IPL.
What are the positives of having been exposed to different overseas conditions so early in your career?
A lot of positives. Thankfully I got to play abroad before I played in India. In Australia, a lot of batsmen have struggled in those conditions and Sri Lanka is not the easiest of places to play. It is tough because you haven’t played in those conditions and at that level before. You start doubting yourself and feel you don’t belong there. Sometimes you have no answers to a few balls bowled at you. But those situations teach you a lot. To overcome that and get whatever runs I have got gives me so much confidence. In fact, much more than what I would have got playing six Tests in India and scoring five centuries.The overseas tours have made me a stronger individual and I’m glad it happened early in my career.
As a place in the team is becoming more competitive in Tests, how is the relationship between the openers?
Honestly, there is no insecurity in the team, not only among openers but the whole team. We are all young, enjoy each other’s company and keen to learn. Most of us have played less than 30 Tests, so each of us are trying to make a mark. The friendship and camaraderie in the team is very good. We are not just friendly on the field but great friends off it too. All the 15 players are on the same page, trying to achieve something. We will achieve the No. 1 Test position shortly and the challenge for us from there on will be how long will remain No. 1.
How was the experience working with Anil Kumble?
It was easy. We didn’t feel he was with the team for the first time. He has kept things simple. He was upfront and clear. He told us our responsibilities and what was expected of us. That made it so much easier for us. We just went out there, prepared and played with a clear mind. He played until recently, so he understands what the players go through. The team activity codes have been set straight and everybody likes it. There is more discipline and commitment and the Test series win has been a great start for us as a team.
Are you looking forward to a lengthy home season?
I’m excited about the cricket that will be played at home over the next eight months. It will be a different challenge to play different teams. It will be a wonderful experience because I haven’t played an international match at home yet.