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Trusted my preparation in the last three or four months: KL Rahul

Last updated on 13 Sep 2023 | 03:27 AM
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Trusted my preparation in the last three or four months: KL Rahul

The wicketkeeper-batter scored a good-looking 44-ball 39 on a turning track against Sri Lanka


Two games into the Super Four stage of the 2023 Asia Cup, India have already made significant strides. After a dominant victory over Pakistan, they faced a challenging encounter against Sri Lanka on a sluggish wicket where runs were hard to come by. For KL Rahul, it was an opportunity to scale up after a four-month-long hiatus that briefly made many believe he would be better off on the bench. 

An 11th-hour injury to Shreyas Iyer opened the door for his inclusion in the Pakistan game, and Rahul proved why he is India's best bet in the middle overs.

In contrast to the Pakistan match, Rahul had to toil for his runs against Sri Lanka, facing a spin duo of Dunith Wellalage and Charith Asalanka, paying homage to Sri Lanka's rich spin tradition. The ball spun consistently, but Rahul persevered, constructing a solid innings for himself until a moment of misjudgment led to his dismissal.

“I didn’t get so much time to think about anything because it was so last moment,” Rahul said in the post-match press conference. “But I trusted my preparation in the last three or four months. I came to Sri Lanka thinking I would start in the playing XI, and that’s how I was preparing for it. 

“When I played the first few balls, I tried to figure out the shots I could play on this pitch and accordingly diffuse the pressure. It was different against Pakistan because the ground allowed us to play more shots. But in this match, I am happy the shots I chose to play till I got out were good.”

With India’s combination needing Rahul to bat at No.5 and keep wickets in the upcoming ICC World Cup in India, it was crucial to see how he was holding up against the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. Fair to say, with the ball turning heavily, Rahul did a good job of judging the pace and getting an extremely important validation on his fitness level. The work that he has put in during the rehab process at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) helped him better himself.

“Bahut saal ho gaya abhi (it’s been many years now). I have been keeping for a while since Rishabh was concussed against Australia in 2019 [2020]. I have been told by the team management that this would be my role in the team. When I was at NCA, I worked on my keeping. Earlier, I was mostly batting, but this time, I did spend a lot of my time on keeping too.”

After claiming five wickets against Pakistan, Kuldeep was in no mood to relent and emerged as the primary wicket-taker against Sri Lanka with four scalps. His impeccable variations and accuracy delighted the Indian team, with Rahul praising the spinner's evolution in the last couple of years.

“Kuldeep has bowled really well. I am really enjoying keeping to him. He has added a couple of new tricks to his bowling in the last year or so, something I couldn’t even pick as a keeper. Hopefully, he can continue the same momentum. When we talk strategy in between overs about how to dismiss a particular batter, he comes up with a new thing and executes it all the time.”

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