KL Rahul cherishes dream start in new dual role

KL Rahul, with his flexibility along the batting order and ability to keep wickets, has proven to be a viable alternative to a struggling Rishabh Pant.

KL Rahul came into the Rajkot ODI having kept wickets for Karnataka in the shorter formats recently.   -  Vijay Soneji

KL Rahul, who had a dream ‘debut’ as full-time keeper-batsman with a 52-ball-80 and three dismissals, is “enjoying every responsibility” thrown at him each day at the international level.

Rahul’s batting at No 5 and his ability to also open the innings and keep wickets decently has opened an option for skipper Virat Kohli in case the profligate Rishabh Pant fails to make his chances count in the run-up to the World T20 in Australia.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start. Each day I’ve been thrown different roles and responsibilities and I’m enjoying it for now,” Rahul said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

READ : KL Rahul, Kuldeep Yadav shine as India beats Australia to draw level

Asked about his new experience of batting at crucial No 5 position Rahul said, “Batting at No.5, I wanted to give myself a few balls, you know what the wicket is doing and Virat said that it’s coming on nicely. A few came off the middle, and I was confident I could score, and everything else faded away. Glad I got some partnerships going and played my role to the best of my abilities.”

About his keeping in the second ODI, Rahul was happy, courtesy positive feedbaack from chinaman Kuldeep Yadav.

“Kuldeep told me my ‘keeping was good too. I grew up keeping but I didn’t do it a lot for my first-class team, but in the last few weeks, I did keep for Karnataka (in the National One Dayers and T20s), so I have been in decent wicket-keeping touch. So hopefully, I can keep my spinners and fast bowlers happy.”

- Maturity and class -

Indian skipper Virat Kohli showered praise on Rahul and his exploits in his new role.

“It’s very important to figure out the best team you can put on the park and when you see how KL was batting today, it’s very difficult to leave someone like that out. Batting at No. 5 and batting like that for the team, this is probably the best he’s played at international level. That knocked showed maturity and class,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Kohli himself was back at No.3 and contributed an effortless 78 off 76 balls.

Asked about the change from the last game, the skipper said: “We live in the days of social media and the panic button was pressed too early. ....We know exactly what we’re doing in the dressing room. On the outside there’s a lot of panic that we don’t really focus on.”

The skipper was also happy that Shikhar Dhawan contributed a stylish 96 which, according to him, augurs well for the team.

“Back to No. 3 was good for the team so I’m happy from that point of view that it helped the team. In ODI cricket, Shikhar has been one of our most consistent performers. I am very happy that he scored runs as well. It always augurs well when he and Rohit score runs.”

Read : Rohit Sharma hurts his left hand, taken off the field

The skipper assured that Rohit, who sustained a shoulder injury is doing fine and is expected to be available for the next game.

“It’s that left shoulder that has popped out a few times. There’s no tear so hopefully he should be back for the next game.”

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