'Virat came to me in bus and said 'you might've to captain': Rahul recalls 'surprise' exchange with Kohli during SA tour

  • Kohli had injured his back ahead of the Johannesburg match and hence Rahul, who was the vice-captain of the team, was given the responsibility to lead the side.
India's KL Rahul with Virat Kohli (REUTERS)
India's KL Rahul with Virat Kohli (REUTERS)
Updated on Mar 20, 2022 01:24 PM IST
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Young India batter KL Rahul has been looked at as one of India's future captains. But even before he became one of the frontrunners for the role to succeed Virat Kohli for the position, Rahul had the experience of leading the Indian side in Johannesburg during the second Test against South Africa in January. And Rahul on Friday recalled the exchange he had with Kohli on the morning of that Test which came as a "huge surprise" to him.

Kohli was leading the Indian side in South Africa Test series. They had won the opener and were aiming to script their first ever Test series win in South Africa as they headed to Johannesburg. But Kohli had injured his back ahead of the match and hence Rahul, who was the vice-captain of the team, was given the responsibility to lead the side.

Speaking on Red Bull Cricket Room on Clubhouse, Rahul recalled that he didn't expect captaincy to come so quickly to him before revealing the words Kohli said to him that left him surprised.

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“Like everyone else, it came to me as a huge surprise to me,” said Rahul.

“I was the vice-captain. As a vice-captain you slowly prepare yourself to become the captain in due time. But then I didn’t expect it to come to me so quickly and in such circumstances: the morning of the game, Virat (Kohli) came to me in the bus and said, ‘My back is not feeling great, you might have to captain the team.’

“It didn’t put me off or my mindset didn’t change a lot. All of us, in some way or the other, when we play the game we are our own captain and in our head we are playing situations like we are a captain. When that ‘C’ in the team list comes, it does feel new and it is something you are proud of. It is an honour not many people get and it is something you always dream of and I was very happy, very grateful.

Unfortunately for Rahul, India had lost the Test match by seven wickets leaving the series level at 1-1. But Rahul took it as a learning experience and admitted that he rather enjoyed leading the Indian team.

"It was very challenging. We were 1-0 up, playing South Africa in South Africa. It was a really good game of cricket; there were ups and downs for both the teams. South Africa players really well and held their nerve towards the end to win the game. Wasn’t the most pleasant thing for me to start off with a loss as a captain, but it was a great learning and I enjoyed those 4-5 days on the field. We fought till the very end,” he said.

Rahul later led India's ODI side in South Africa later that month and he remains in contention for the captaincy post despite selectors unanimously selecting Rohit Sharma as the all-format captain.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022