In the three match T20I series against West Indies, KL Rahul scored 2 half centuries and finished 2nd highest run scorer with 164 runs to his name. Virat Kohli scored the most runs in the series (183). However, Rahul was not the first choice for the opener position, it was only because Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan picked an injury, that Rahul got a chance to play.
KL Rahul managed to score 313 runs in mere 8 innings in the Karnataka’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, which they successfully defended. Rahul has a strike rate of 155.72 and average score of 52.16 in the competition.
Many say, Rahul is the perfect match for Kohli’s madness, unlike Kohli’s initial struggles, before the skipper upped to his A-game, Rahul has been clinical. More often than not, Rahul has converted his starts into substantial grounds for the team.
Even in Hyderabad, when Indian was chasing a colossal score of 207 in the 1st T20I against West Indies, he was able to convert his humble start to 62 of just 40 balls. Though he failed to make a mark in Thiruvananthapuram, his game in Mumbai was nothing short of a delight to the viewers.
However, it is likely that once Dhawan is fit to make his return to the team, Rahul would be sidelined again, given that Rahul has played the best of his potential more often than he has failed to, makes a strong case for him to be selected in the squad for Australia 2020.
Yesterday, after the match Rahul said “I won’t say I don’t feel it (pressure) at all. Obviously, going in and out of the team is never easy on any player”. He continued by adding “you take a little bit of time to get used to the international pressure and oppositions and there are no opposition where you can just walk in and score runs, so it’s always difficult and this game is all about confidence and all about being in good rhythm and being in good touch. So again, having said that I can’t really sit outside and not prepare, all I can do is sit outside and prepare and try to create match feel for myself and I did play a lot of first-class cricket, so not a lot changes. It is still T20 cricket, so my processes and me being out there in the middle and trying to do what I do best, trying to stay in that rhythm is important for me. I have got that opportunity to go back to first-class cricket and play some games, gain confidence and come here and just continue to do that”.
Rahul said, it is very important for a batsman, a bowler and anybody who is on the field to be in a good “rhythm”. He said “no matter how much you train or how many hours you put in at the nets, when you go out in the middle it is completely different. So it is important that everybody stays match ready and they have enough runs behind them as batsmen and as bowlers and have bowled enough be it first-class cricket or any other format, it is important that we keep playing cricket and be in the middle. That’s helped me and I have always felt that’s what helps a batsman to stay in good rhythm, not putting hours in the net, I rather be in the middle playing games”.
He said he does not have control over many thing but what is under his control is “to keep putting up these performances whenever I get the opportunity and I am not at that stage where I worry about whether I’ll find myself playing the next tournament or anything. Whenever I get the opportunity I want to win games for my team and be out there in the middle and enjoy my batting, that’s the place that I get most happiness right now; being in the middle and hitting the ball from the middle of the bat, so whenever that opportunity comes, I’ll like to grab and enjoy it”.
After the 1st T20I at Hyderabad, in the third and decisive match of the 3 match series at Wankhede, Mumbai, Rahul together with Rohit put up a score of 135 for the first wicket. Rahul scored 96 of just 56 deliveries, just 4 short of his century and this should not be shadowed by Kohli’s innings where he scored 70 off of just 29 deliveries as he remained not out.
Rahul on scoring 91 said “I love playing here, at the Wankhede, any wicket that has pace and bounce is what all of us as batsmen love” he added, “Wankhede is one such ground where we get to play our shots and play our shots freely and there is value for your shots and the crowd is amazing, electrical (electrifying)! You just want to be up there in the middle and entertain them, so we love coming here to the Wankhede”.
Even though West Indies lost the series 1-2, they did what they do the best, West Indies side hit more sixes and boundaries. West Indies hit 39 sexes in the three games and Indian scored 33, most of which came out of Virat Khhli’s bat.
When Rahul was asked, have T20 game now become a battle of sixes, he said “Not Really” adding “look, each team has its own strengths and team India, we do have big six hitters and all of us can hit sixes. (We are) more skilled and we manage to get 220-240 and it is not the first time that we have scored 200-plus. We have done it so often and we need to stick to our strengths and what works best for our team and what we are all blessed with is skill and we will try to use that and back our strengths”.