India opener KL Rahul admits it is difficult to be at peace when one's place in the national team is uncertain but says he has learnt to find happiness in his batting rather than worry about a spot in the side. Rahul blasted his second half-century of the series, hitting a blazing 91 in the third T20 International, to help India beat West Indies by 67 runs and seal the series 2-1 on Wednesday (11th December 2019).
The 27-year-old was not the first-choice opener and was handed the slot after regular opener Shikhar Dhawan sustained an injury and was ruled out of the entire series. "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, 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," Rahul told reporters.
"You can only hope (for being in the team). For me what's in my 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 (like that).
"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," he added.
The stylish right-handed batsman said he tries to be in the rhythm even when he is not in the team. "This game is all about confidence and being in good rhythm and good touch. 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," he said.
Asked how he dealt with the disappointment when he was dropped from the team, Rahul said he didn't complicate his thoughts and just kept working on his game. "I mean you can only complicate it (if) your thoughts are wrong, my thoughts are very simple. I prepare as hard as I can, put in the hours in the nets. When I get first class cricket, I go back and play and try to improve my skill, batting and get some time in the middle," he said.
"I know people feel it is easier said than done, it is as easy you make it. Life is (all about) what you put in your head," he said.
Rahul stressed on the need to keep playing and be ready so that one can use the opportunities. "It's so important for a batsman or a bowler (or) for anybody for that matter to be in good rhythm, being out there in the middle, no matter how much you train or how much hours you put in at the nets, when you go out in middle it is completely different," he said.
"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'd rather be in the middle playing games."
In the past, we tried to over achieve at times: Rahul on India's first innings woes
Rahul feels the series-sealing win over West Indies was a good learning experience in setting-up big totals, something his team has not been able to do consistently.
India have been good chasers but don't often set big targets. But on Wednesday night, India posted a mammoth 240 for three as Rahul, skipper Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma slammed explosive half-centuries.
Rahul was expectedly asked about India's inability post big scores on a regular basis.
"I don't know really the exact answer to that, but we are looking to work on first innings if whenever we have to bat (and) start the innings. At times, we have tried to get we start off thinking we want more than 200 or that's T20 cricket nowadays, no total is enough, you always feel like you are 10-15 runs short," he said.
"So at times we have tried to over achieve and when you are batting first and setting a target that often happens, not just in T20 cricket but in any format. So it's a good learning for us and each game we play in we get an opportunity to bat first we learn something new and today was a good confidence booster for all of us and hopefully we can continue to do that more often."
Rahul also admitted that while batting first there was lot of pressure and the team had faltered in the past. Rahul was asked about the series deciding match against South Africa in Bengaluru where the visitors comfortably chased the target.
"(There were) Similar scenarios, (but the) wicket was a bit different. Bengaluru had lot more to offer, when you lose couple of wickets early or then the pressure is always on the team batting first and like we have often tried to get bigger total and we have failed to achieve, that happens with every team when you are trying to set a target.
"No total is good enough nowadays and you want to give that extra 20-25 runs to the bowlers and with the dew coming in, so there is lot of pressure batting first and there is lot of responsibility and at times we have failed and that okay, we can accept it and we learn," he said.
Rahul, also said that West Indies losing opener Evis Lewis, who sustained an injury, was a big loss for them.
Rahul was also asked whether T20 cricket was all about hitting sixes, and he replied saying "not really".
And finally did he change his stance?
"Not really. I felt that my back-lift was coming from not exactly where I wanted to come from, again in the time off (from) playing cricket, I worked on it. It is coming out well and when you score runs everything seems good right. Back-lift, I did not change it, I just realized where it was coming from and where I need to bring it on and I added that," signed off Rahul.