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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

India vs England: KL Rahul sizzles at No 3 but covets opener’s slot

KL Rahul’s century at one-drop in the first T20 win over England at Old Trafford keeps him in the race to regain his favourite slot as opener.

cricket Updated: Jul 06, 2018 13:44 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Cardiff
K.L. Rahul during the press conference ahead of the second T20 between India and England at Cardiff, Britain on July 5, 2018.
K.L. Rahul during the press conference ahead of the second T20 between India and England at Cardiff, Britain on July 5, 2018. (Action Images via Reuters)

KL Rahul did brilliantly after getting a chance to bat at No 3, scoring a swashbuckling hundred at Old Trafford, but it’s the opening slot that he covets.

It’s not that he was complaining, just declaring his preference ahead of the second game. “I have always batted at the top of the order, that’s where I would love to bat. No 1 and 2 is what I am most comfortable in.

“Shikhar (Dhawan) got out early (at Old Trafford) and it still felt like I was opening the batting; it gives me a chance to get my eye in and even use the powerplay. Whatever chances I get, I should make the most of it. Very happy I got to bat up the order,” said Rahul.

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To accommodate Rahul at No 3, skipper Virat Kohli came in at No 4. The move paid off with the Bangalore batsman smashing an unbeaten 101 off 54 balls to win the game for India. Rahul is batting at his best but competition for slots is intense in this batting line-up with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar entrenched as openers.

Rahul got the monkey off his back, having gone without a century since December 2016, when he scored 199 against England in the Chennai Test. Since then he had a string of half-centuries, including a couple of 90s, but the three-figure mark had eluded him. His last hundred in T20 was in August 2016 (110no vs WI), and in ODIs was in June 2016 (100no vs Zimbabwe).

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it, whether I was in form or out of form. I kept getting the fifties, and getting out. I was batting well, but somehow I couldn’t get to the three-figure mark, so it was quite frustrating. Being in and out of the team, injuries and sickness, it was all playing on my mind and it kept frustrating me even more.

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“I realised somewhere down the line that it is still better than getting out on single figures and stopped worrying about three figures. I wanted it really bad and I’m very happy it came here in England, in the first game of the series. Hopefully, I can carry that confidence forward and use the form and make it big.”

Rahul attributed his impressive show to strong desire: “It’s just how badly I want to be in the middle and do it for the team (after being in and out of the side). If you help them win a game then the team will also start believing the player can do it for the team. So, building that confidence for yourself and the team is very important.”

First Published: Jul 05, 2018 22:26 IST

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