The Karnataka lad played as a batsman in T20 series with Rishabh Pant donning the gloves. However, in the first ODI, Rahul stood behind the wickets again. He could again find himself manning the boundaries if the team management decides to bring back Pant in place of Shreyas Iyer, who has been injured and ruled out for at least four months.
Rahul said he was prepared for the challenge that came from having a healthy competition for each slot in the team.
“When you are a part of this Indian team, you know that the competition is going to be really, really high and you can never sit back and feel comfortable like you own a position. You will always be challenged and that’s how it is,” he said.
Rahul suffered a wrist injury in Australia and did not get a game in Tests vs England, meaning he came into the T20 series with a lack of game time. Result: 15 runs in four T20s with two ducks.
Rahul took things in stride. Accepted the failure knowing he did his best to prepare and carried on, trusting his process. Back in the middle order for the first ODI, he scored unbeaten 62 off 43 balls to put together an unbeaten 112 for the sixth wicket with Krunal Pandya, in a game-winning partnership.
“This is part of the journey and everybody goes through this (lean patch). I didn’t do anything different or I wasn’t too stressed. As a player, you can get disappointed as I have been sitting on the bench for a while. After those three or three half months, I wanted to do well like every player in the team. If it doesn’t happen, you accept it,” he said.
Off late, India’s debutants have taken to international arena like a fish to the water. Washington Sundar, T Natarajan, Mohammed Siraj, Axar Patel, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and the latest duo – Krunal Pandya and Prasidh Krishna – have all impressed on their debut in various formats.
Rahul, who himself scored a hundred on his ODI debut (100* vs Zimbabwe in 2016), feels that IPL has played its role and the confidence it gives to the players.
“Whoever has come into the team, is not because they have performed well in one IPL season or one good season of first-class cricket. It has been 2-3 years of consistent performances and at whatever level they play, or where ever they play,” said the 28-year-old batsman.
“Surya (Suryakumar Yadav), Ishan (Kishan) and Krunal (Pandya) have all said in their interviews that they have played against most of these guys in the IPL and they know how they go about their games. “IPL outings have obviously given them a lot of confidence and they have carried that confidence into playing for their country,” he said.
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