Asia Cup 2018: KL Rahul feels competition for places in Indian team keeps players on toes

Opener KL Rahul finds it “frustrating” that he has played only 13 ODIs since making his India debut in 2016, but concedes that he cannot afford to sulk given the competition for places in the team.

cricket Updated: Sep 26, 2018 12:54 IST
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KL Rahul plays a shot during his knock of 60 against Afghanistan on Tuesday.(AFP)

Opener KL Rahul finds it “frustrating” that he has played only 13 ODIs since making his India debut in 2016, but concedes that he cannot afford to sulk given the competition for places in the team. “I know how I have to work on my game. Whatever position I get I have to make best use of it. It is disheartening and frustrating at times. But given the competition, nobody is a sure-shot,” Rahul told reporters after the tie against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup on Tuesday — a game in which he scored 60 coming in as an opener.

“So you have to wait your turn. You have to be patient and work hard. Whenever I am not playing, it’s easy for me to sit and sulk why am I not playing. But I use that time to improve my fitness and game,” he said.

Rahul’s ODI career might be just 13-match old but he has already batted in four different positions, turning up most time (7) in the opening slot. Rahul said being in the top order is his position of comfort. “It has been challenging to bat at different positions. I have always batted at the top of the order from junior cricket and that is the most comfortable position for me,” he said. “But in a team sport you need to be flexible and whatever the responsibility the team gives you need to put your hand up and do the best job you can. Unfortunately the chances I have got in the middle order haven’t gone my way,” he added.

Reflecting on his performance, the 26-year-old said he likes to play his strokes but is also learning to pace his innings. “I can’t really think about how many opportunities I get. Whatever chances I get I need to back my natural game. Coming in and out of the team, you don’t find your rhythm as soon as you walk in. Today I took my time in the middle,” he explained. “I tried to go hard initially but I felt I wasn’t middling the ball too well. That’s when I told myself to face a few balls, play couple of overs, read the pace of the wicket. Get used to being in the middle again,” he added.

India, who rested five key players on Tuesday, were stopped at 252 all out in a chase of 253 by the resolute Afghans. Rahul said it wasn’t easy batting second and lauded the Afghan bowlers for their determination.

“We were playing on different wicket. Last two games were on the other side and the ball seemed to come on to the bat a lot better. Also I don’t want to take anything away from the Afghanistan bowers. They are a quality spin attack. A lot of credit should go to their bowlers and how not how the wicket behaved. We will have to see what kind of wicket we play on in the final,” he said.

First Published: Sep 26, 2018 12:53 IST