Hyderabad: The last time the Indian vice-captain KL Rahul donned the Indians colours was in February this year against New Zealand where he scored a century. However, that looks like ages ago for the wicketkeeper batsman given the lengthy hiatus they had due to the coronavirus pandemic.
India will be playing their first international match against Australia with the ODI series scheduled to start on Friday in Sydney and the Bengaluru cricketer feels it is a fresh start for the team. “We are playing for the country after a while. We are eager to get onto the field. I had actually forgotten the last innings (against New Zealand) where I scored a century. It is a fresh start for everybody and important to start well. We missed wearing blue jersey and representing the country,” he said in a virtual press conference.
With Rahul entrusted with the additional wicketkeeping and vice-captain responsibilities, the batsman doesn’t feel any pressure. “I did get a little bit of a feeler (of doing multiple roles) with IPL as I was playing a similar role there. It was challenging and it was new. I got used to that role and I started enjoying it. Hopefully I will continue that and the presence of a captain like Virat Kohli makes the job easier,” he added.
Rahul had a fantastic IPL amassing 670 runs for the Orange Cap. He feels the IPL performance does help his confidence going into this series. “Yes, it does give a player a lot of confidence just considering how the last six, seven months went before IPL. We as players came into the tournament (IPL) with self-doubt and a lot was going on in our mind. And I felt good scoring runs and hope I will use the momentum here. But this is a different format and Australia are a competitive side. It is important to start fresh and stay positive.”
Rahul, who opens the innings regularly, is however, open to playing anywhere in the order. “It will depend on the formats I am playing. It also depends on what the team wants of me. The last time I played was at No.5. It is a role I quite enjoy. I am happy to do whatever role the team gives me,” he revealed.
The 28-year-old said staying alone in the room was a big challenge. “The challenge for me mostly is being alone in the room. Going out and training with teammates is the best part of the day.”
Former Indian skipper MS Dhoni had a very good record behind the wicket in guiding the spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja and Rahul hopes to do his best in assisting them. “Obviously no one can fill the place of MS Dhoni. We have learnt a lot from him. For me as well, with players like Yuzi, Jaddu and Kuldeep, we have a decent understanding in the middle and I will probably go and give them feedback on what I feel the better length is and on field setting. I have done that in New Zealand and I enjoyed it.”
Speaking on Australian bowling unit, he added, “I can’t single out one bowler as a threat. Australia is really a competitive team and they are a big threat as a unit together.”
He also rated Marnus Labuschagne as a quality player. “I enjoyed watching him bat in Ashes. He has been scoring runs consistently. I don’t think he is not known anymore. We have watched how he plays. Hopefully we won’t score that many runs against us. He is a quality player but we will have our plans ready as we have a top class bowling unit.’’
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