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Captaining India is validation of my growth as a player: KL Rahul

KL Rahul

Captaining India is validation of my growth as a player: KL Rahul

KL Rahul scored a brilliant unbeaten century and was named the Man of the Match in India’s test series win against New Zealand. The innings is one of the best played by an Indian batsman since Virender Sehwag’s double hundred at Rajkot in 2011. Rahul has been criticised for his inability to convert starts into big scores but his knock against the Blackcaps is a prime example that he has now learnt how to do it consistently. 

He started the Boxing Day Test well with a boundary off Tom Latham before accelerating in the second session as he hit six fours and one massive six off Colin de Grandhomme. From 65, he brought up his maiden Test century with a sumptuous cover drive off Neil Wagner followed by an even more memorable clip through square-leg from Tim Southee. 

He finished with 114 not out and India declared soon after to seal an unassailable first innings lead which they never looked like losing. Even though Rahul was dropped twice during his knock, he said that getting dropped just made him more determined to play better cricket for India in the long run.

What’s your take on the performance?

It was a brilliant knock by KL Rahul. He showed immense maturity and class to score a classic century and was the difference in the match. Rahul had a number of starts in his innings but he rarely lost his composure in the middle. He was looking in ominous form and his knock validated his growth as a cricketer.

Rahul says he’s still working on his game

Rahul is a very talented cricketer with a lot of potential. But there’s no denying the fact that he’s still very raw and is looking for more consistency in his game. He’s been criticised for his inability to convert starts into big scores but his knock against the Blackcaps is a prime example that he has now learnt how to do it consistently. 

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Rahul started the Boxing Day Test well with a boundary off Tom Latham before accelerating in the second session as he hit six fours and one massive six off Colin de Grandhomme. From 65, he brought up his maiden Test century with a sumptuous cover drive off Neil Wagner followed by an even more memorable clip through square-leg from Tim Southee. 

He finished with 114 not out and India declared soon after to seal an unassailable first innings lead which they never looked like losing. Even though Rahul was dropped twice during his knock, he said that getting dropped just made him more determined to play better cricket for India in the long run.

On being dropped after scoring a century

I have always been the kind of person if I get dropped, I will play even better with a fresh determination to prove my worth. I have always played my natural game. I am not trying to show anyone in particular. I am just trying to play the best I can for my country. I have been in this position before too. I was dropped from Hyderabad team after scoring a hundred against Rajkot. But I was happy and motivated to make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes again. I was trying to make sure that I am going to do something new and better this time.

Improvement needed for ODIs – Rahul

I think I need to improve my fitness levels. I have been working on my fitness, but I feel like I want to do more. I want to be in the best shape possible for the long World Cup campaign but I also want to keep my mind fresh and not get affected too much by the Test environment. The World Cup is the ultimate goal and I know if I keep practising and doing my best it will work out for me. I have been playing a lot of one-day cricket and it requires a completely different skill set from Test cricket. I am working really hard on improving my fitness, v fitness is something I should have been working on for a long time, I have just been lazy about it.

KL Rahul is an important player for India in Tests too

Cricket is a game where you are always judged by your failures more than your successes. I know for a fact that if I don’t play well in a Test series, 100% of people will criticise me for not performing. If I score runs in a series, sure people will support me but they will also start to blame me for winning matches when I am batting at No.3 position. It’s a double-edged sword. But I am used to that now. 

I know I am an important player for India in Tests too and I have to do my best in both formats otherwise it will be a big disappointment for me. I know people might criticise me if I don’t score runs in ODIs, but I want to play cricket in the best spirit for my country.

Bowlers need to improve – Rahul

The bowling in this series was really good. Southee and Wagner bowled really well and Tim Southee in particular was unlucky not to get a wicket in the first innings. New Zealand played really good cricket and deserved to win the series. The conditions were really helpful for the bowlers and they were able to extract some good bounce and rev the pitch up.

 Rahul also recognised that the bowlers need to improve as they were not able to take early wickets in the second innings. The batsmen generally get frustrated when they are stuck in the middle and are often inclined to get out on the first offer. Rahul said that the bowlers should learn how to take wickets early so that the batsmen do not get restless.

Coaches can help with skills and fitness – KL Rahul

I have been working with MS (Vishwa) Kaushik and he has helped me with my bowling skills and fitness. He has been a huge help with my batting too. He is a very good coach and has been teaching me a lot about batting and bowling. He is always there for me on the field and we have a really good partnership. He has been helping me improve my skills and fitness. He has been a great help and has been a good role model for me. 

He is someone I can look up too. I just want to thank him for all the hard work he has put in and I am hoping that I can repay him by scoring runs for India in the future. Summary Rahul finally broke his Test duck against New Zealand but what caught the eye was his maturity in the middle. He is a good player but his temperament has been criticised many times and now he needs to improve in that aspect as well. He is an important part of the Test team and will be looking to convert his progress into big scores in the upcoming series against West Indies. 

The bowlers need to improve as well as the New Zealanders were not able to extract any turn or bounce on the wicket and should have been able to take wickets in the second innings if they had the discipline to go for early ones. Rahul has been working really hard with his fitness and skills and will be looking to make a mark when he plays against West Indies.

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