KL Rahul: "I welcome competition"

KL Rahul speaks about the competition in the Indian team and transition from tests to T20s.

KL Rahul put up some impressive performances against the West Indies in the recent tour.   -  Special Arrangement

On the recent tour to the Caribbean, K.L. Rahul caused a few welcome selection headaches for the Indian team management. When regular opener M. Vijay was forced to sit out of the second Test due to an injury, it opened the door for Rahul. He took the opportunity with both hands, scoring 158.

Though Vijay was declared fit to play the third Test, Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan retained their spots at the top of the order. The Karnataka lad made 50 and 28, which helped him keep his place for the final encounter. Dhawan, however, was replaced by Vijay, but a wet outfield curtailed play.

Rahul opined that the competition among the three openers helped him raise his game. “I welcome competition, as this is one of the main reasons why players succeed. All of us know that there are other cricketers who are ready to play for India. It makes us focus more, especially on fitness. If you get injured, there is a good chance that someone will come in and make it difficult for you to get back into the side,” Rahul said, at Jain University’s sports award ceremony held here on Saturday.

Just a few days after finishing its Test commitments, the Indian team travelled to the United States of America to compete in two Twenty20 internationals. Rahul came to the party once again, smashing an unbeaten 110 off just 51 balls — the joint second-fastest T20 international century — in the first outing. A hurricane fourth-wicket partnership with skipper M.S. Dhoni nearly took the unit past the stiff 246-run target, but a terrific final over from Dwayne Bravo gave West Indies a one-run victory.

Rahul’s effort typified the stiff standards expected of modern-day batsmen — seamless transition from one format to another. “It is never easy to switch to different formats in short time. But, the more matches we play, the easier it gets,” he said.

The 24-year-old added that customised training regimens goes a long way. “In the off-season, I train a certain number of hours on certain days for each of the three formats,” he said.