KL Rahul hasn't played a Test since August-September 2019. The right-handed batsman from Karnataka is still one of India's best batsmen in white-ball cricket but hasn't yet managed to stamp his authority in the longest format of the game. Rahul is currently in England for the five-match Test series and the 29-year-old is now more "focused and determined" than ever.
"When I got dropped in 2018, I had to go back and discuss with coaches, watched a lot of videos to see where I was faltering and try to correct that. I'm happy, time off from Test cricket (has helped). Like they say, failure makes you strong, makes you more focused and determined about the game. It's no different for me. I'm looking forward to the opportunities, trying to stay a lot calmer and more disciplined," he told BCCI.tv.
The last time India toured England for a Test series was in 2018 and Rahul featured in all five encounters. He only managed 150 runs in nine innings but ended the series with a stroke-filled 149 in the final Test at the Oval. However, India still lost that game by 118 runs.
"I remember The Oval being the best batting pitch we got in the whole series. At the back of my mind, I also knew it was the last game of the series and I hadn't done well in the series. So, it was only realistic that I would have probably not gotten a chance in the next series.
"I wanted to make it count, enjoy my batting. I had a sense of freedom in my head. I thought this may be my last opportunity to let me go and enjoy my game. Me and Rishabh (Pant), had we battled for an hour more, we could have won the game. That would have been historic, been the icing on the cake. But I'll still hold Oval very close (to my heart)."
Rahul is now back in England and is expected to bat in the middle-order if a slot opens up. He has only featured in two first-class games in the last 18 months but managed to smash a century against County Select XI in the three-day warm-up game. With India's vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane struggling with a hamstring, Rahul batted at No. 5 and scored 101 off 150 deliveries (retired out).
"It's always good to get runs in the white kit. It's been a while since I'd played a red-ball game, so it was very nice to be out there, and score runs. It's important to stay patient and wait for my turn. I've been working on my game. It's good to get some time in the middle and score some runs," said Rahul, who last played a Test in West Indies in August-September 2019.
"I've always been confident. I've never really worried about confidence. It's my self-belief that has gotten me so far, but it's about maintaining a calm head, learning from your mistakes. I'm just enjoying my game. I've made mistakes, I've learnt from them. I get stronger. Like I said this is a good opportunity again, hopefully fingers crossed I can do the job for the team."
On top of that, in the absence of Wriddhiman Saha and Pant, Rahul also kept wickets in India's lone tour game. "It's a good opportunity to test my body and wicketkeeping skills.
"The added responsibility made me really sore (laughs) but apart from that, it was good time out and it gives me good opportunity to stay in the game. Especially when it is a practice game, sometimes it can feel longer. But when you're wicketkeeping, you need to stay focused and you're in the game all the time. So, I quite enjoyed it."