K. L. Rahul happy to bat where the team needs him to

Having regained his confidence after a prolific run in the IPL, Rahul is upbeat and geared up to play his role for India at the Cricket World Cup 2019.

K. L. Rahul...“I’m feeling pretty confident.”   -  K. Murali Kumar

K. L. Rahul, India’s reserve opener, has dropped enough hints to suggest he would happily bat at No. 4 if the team management needs him to.

The No. 4 batting spot remains a conundrum for the Indian for the Cricket World Cup 2019. It is as yet unclear who would bat at that position — Vijay Shankar or Rahul.

“The selectors have made it clear. I am part of the team and will go with whatever the team decides when we get there,” Rahul told PTI when asked specifically about batting at No. 4.

Ravi Shastri, the head coach, has said the team combinations would entirely depend on the prevailing conditions in England.

Read | Vengsarkar bats for K. L. Rahul at No. 4

Runs deserted Rahul in the Test series in Australia in December, 2018, and January, 2019. Then, he was called back from the tour — alongside Hardik Pandya — in the wake of some incautious comments on a television show.

Form an ‘overrated word’

The 27-year-old had begun doubting himself but did not give up. Suspended from the national team, Rahul was asked play for India ‘A’ in the home series against England Lions and he was back among the runs.

In the following T20s against Australia, he scored 50 and 47 and carried that form into the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he ended up as the second-highest run-getter, with 593 runs at 53.90. “Form is an overrated word,” said Rahul, who goes into his maiden World Cup at the top of his game, having overcome the controversy-laden six months of his career.

“The last couple of months have been good with the bat. Playing the series against England Lions gave me time to focus on my skill, then did well against T20s against Australia and then the IPL. I am feeling pretty confident,” Rahul said.

Read | 'I couldn't help but doubt my own character'

l tour like Rahul had in Australia but he did not over think about his game. “I realised there was no problem with my skills. Form is a very over-rated word but yes not performing well in Australia is hard on any player. Everyone wants to perform. I just took it in my stride and took it as part of the journey. I am happy with where I am at right now.”

‘Not really changed much’

He discussed what went wrong in Australia with India ‘A’ coach Rahul Dravid during the England Lions series, and both felt no drastic changes were needed in his technique. “I have not really changed much. Every player goes through rough patches. Technically, I am trying to keep my batting as simple as I can. If you are hitting the ball well, your form, your technique looks good and when you are not, everything about your game looks bad. That is how it goes. Can’t really sit and break your head over it and stay as positive as possible.”

Rahul was not consistent during the long tour of England last year but did manage to come up with special performances, including an unbeaten 101 in a T20I in Manchester, and 149 in a Test at The Oval. But that was in the past, he pointed out.

K. L. Rahul (right) revealed he had learned immensely by batting alongside Chris Gayle for Kings XI Punjab. Photo: K. R. Deepak


“I just know what to expect in England [at the World Cup]. We were there around this time last year so we know what the conditions will be like. Nobody takes confidence from the last tour and how many runs you scored; you start fresh, but yes, we are better prepared.”

‘A game of bat and ball’

After almost two months of non-stop T20 cricket, will switching to ODI cricket be tough?

“[It is] easier said than done but as players you try to keep it as simple as you can. Not [many] changes [between formats], it still is a game of bat and ball and you need to play the situation. T20 may be fast but still, you never plan for a T20. The same way you don’t plan for the other formats. You just go out there and assess the conditions and play a role that suits your team best, Rahul said.

Rahul revealed he had learned immensely by batting alongside Chris Gayle for Kings XI Punjab.

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