KL Rahul, whose unbeaten 75 propelled India to victory in the first ODI at the Wankhede on Friday, revealed that he massively benefited from the entry of a left-hander in Ravindra Jadeja, which he claimed played a hand in the Australian seamers losing their lines.
Chasing 189, India were in all sorts at 39/4 before a 44-run stand between Rahul and stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya helped steady the ship. However, it was the unbeaten 108-run stand between Rahul (75*) and Jadeja (45*) that sealed victory for the hosts, who eventually got over the line with more than 10 overs to spare.
Kishan’s early dismissal meant that for 17 consecutive overs, the Australian seamers were able to bowl exclusively to right-handers and settle in on a fixed line. Jadeja’s arrival forced them to make adjustments which, according to Rahul, ended up working in India’s favor.
“The minute the left-hander walked in, I got a few loose ball. That happens to the best of bowlers,” Rahul said.
“The left-hander walked in and that worked for us. Jaddu batted beautifully and he runs hard between the wickets. He is in great form and he knows what to do in those situations.”
Rahul has plenty of higher individual scores in ODI cricket but his knock on Friday stood out for the fact that it came with the side under severe pressure on a track that was discernibly tough for batting. India, at one point, were at the risk of being blown away by Starc & Co. but Rahul stood firm, absorbed everything that was being thrown at him and eventually transferred the pressure back on the Aussie bowlers.
The key to his success on Friday, he revealed, was staying positive and not going into a shell.
“Saw three wickets fall down early, Starc was swinging the ball well and when he brings the ball back in, he is a dangerous bowler. Just tried to play normal cricketing shots. Got a few boundaries away and that settled my nerves,” Rahul revealed.
“I batted with Shubman, Hardik, and Jadeja. The talk was that there’s help on the wicket but we did not want to get into our shell and play out a certain bowler. We wanted to be positive and put the loose balls away.
“If we are good with out footwork, we could do well and it was fun batting with Jadeja.”
Like Smith, Rahul too admitted that the spicy nature of the wicket took him by surprise. It in turn posed him an additional challenge, for he had to be alert behind the wickets too, but the 30-year-old revealed that keeping wickets on pacy wickets is something he enjoys doing.
“When we started off, I didn’t think the pitch will help the bowlers that much. Once Shami came back for his second spell, he did wonders. Any team that wants to win needs to pick wickets in the middle overs.
“When there’s bounce, I like keeping wickets. It is a bit of a challenge when it is slow and low, it is challenging physically. The ball was moving around and I enjoy playing here at the Wankhede.”