'When I came back, I was told 'we're putting you in the middle order'': India opener on how he got his position back
The current Indian team is filled with match-winner and the fight for one position is more than ever. Gone are the days when if a top player was injured, his replacement in the Indian team was nothing more than a stop-gap arrangement. Today, more than 2 suitable replacements waiting to lay claim to the vacant positions in Team India and there is no top player. How else do you explain what Indian cricket did last year when it had sent two teams in two different parts of the world – a Test squad to England and a limited-overs squad to Sri Lanka.
Talking about the tour of England, which India bossed with wins at Lord’s and The Oval, it is to be noted that their star opener KL Rahul almost played in the middle order. Rahul, who scored a century at Lord’s at a solid knock of 84 in Nottingham while opening the innings was making a comeback into the Indian team and the batter explains that upon his return, the initial conversations within the team was to make him bat in the middle order. But as luck would have it, Mayank Agarwal was ruled out due to a concussion and Rahul got to have a go at his preferred position.
“About 15-16 months before the tour of England, I got dropped from the Test team. I think I was dropped for 2-3 series and then I came back into the team again. When I came back, the conversations were ‘You’re a good player of spin. So, we’re going to try to put you in the middle order, the middle-over order,” Rahul told Gaurav Kapur on his famous YouTube show ‘Breakfast With Champions’.
“I said, okay, so I prepared for that for 15 months. And then, unfortunately, Mayank had that incident in the nets. And they did ask me ‘We’ve prepared you for No. 5, but… It was such a funny conversation from the coach, captain everybody. They were laughing. Like we don’t want to do this but this is how it happens for you, like we understand but here No. 1 position is open, do you want to take it? Why would you even I think I won’t take it. 100 percent.”
As Rahul mentioned, the tour of England was his first Test series for India after exactly two years, having last played in West Indies in August of 2019. Rahul ended up scoring 315 runs from four Tests, adding valuable partnerships with Rohit Sharma, which went a long way in ensuring India a 2-1 lead before the final Test in Manchester was called off and later rescheduled.
“I’ll jump on it. I’ll do anything and I never want to say no because you don’t know what’s in store for you, right? I’d rather take that opportunity and fail than say ‘no, I’m not prepared for this’. I am like no, let me take it. If I fail, I fail. I accept that,” added Rahul.