KL Rahul feels that the questions regarding his fitness have already been answered after his performance in the Asia Cup 2023 where he scored a century against Pakistan and kept wickets for India in the Super 4 stage and final. The wicketkeeper batter made a return to competitive cricket after a long injury layoff and impressed many with his performance.
He is also captaining the Indian team in the first two ODIs against Australia in the absence of Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya.
“The team management has shown a lot of faith in me in the last two years. They keep giving me more responsibilities which shows that they believe and trust in my abilities. It gives me a lot of confidence and I also enjoy taking responsibility. It makes life and playing cricket a lot more fun,” Rahul told JioCinema.
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Rahul has been in sensational form since his return as he smashed a century against Pakistan in an all-important Super 4 clash in Asia Cup 2023 and on Friday hit a half-century against Australia in the first ODI as India won by five wickets at Mohali.
“Everyone has seen me playing in the Asia Cup, I played all the games in the Super Fours. I kept behind the wickets, batted and scored runs as well, so I think that question is answered for everyone who were concerned about my fitness. Hopefully, I’ll carry on in the same way with a big two months coming up with the World Cup and the Australia series.”
Asked about his physical preparation for a match, Rahul said, “I knew when I would return to the side, I’d have to keep wickets and bat… The physical challenges are a lot more compared to when I am only batting. I knew this, so I worked very hard on my fitness. As cricketers, we know the challenges that we will have to face on the field and we try to replicate that at training and practice sessions.”
Rahul began his ODI career as an opener, but since the last World Cup in 2019, he’s found success as a middle-order batter. He feels adapting to the roles and facing pressure situations has helped him excel in that phase of the batting order.
“All my life, I have batted as an opener. At the top of the order, you are creating the game yourself. Even when you are chasing, you know you need to score a particular score. You go in with zero baggage. There is no pressure of falling wickets or required run rate.”
“But when you bat in the middle order, you have the situation in front of you and then need to act accordingly. That’s the only major difference. I have been lucky that I have got enough games in the middle order to understand and adapt. Batting at positions 4 and 5 are not too different but yes, there is a big difference between opening and batting in the middle order.”
The right-handed batter thinks playing Australia ahead of the World Cup is a good preparation for the Indian team. “I think so, they’re coming into the World Cup as one of the favourites. They’ve got some great players, some we play IPL with and we can see the impact they have.”
“They come to India a lot, they know our pitches and conditions as well as we do. This series will all be about how each team brings their skills to the forefront. So, yes, really excited about the series and this is the best way to challenge ourselves before the World Cup.”