KL Rahul gave a glimpse of his immense potential when he scored a century in Australia in his debut Test match. After that, there was no looking back for the youngster as he went to pile huge runs whenever he got a chance. Rahul has a century in every format of the game on International platform, a feat even Indian star Virat Kohli hasn’t yet achieved. He has got limited chances but one can say that he has grabbed them with both the hands. The right-handed batsman recently had an interview with Wisden India where he spoke on various topics.
On his international career so far:
It’s been the way I would have wanted it to be. I have seen what it takes to be successful, I know how to come back from a bad innings and how to get out of trouble when put under pressure.
It has been a very challenging start to my international career. No complaints about it. It has made me stronger as a cricketer. I am enjoying my game at the moment, playing well and doing the job for my team. I could not have asked for a better start, and I hope I can learn from my mistakes and improve on my strengths from hereon.
On how he kept himself upbeat while being not included in the playing eleven regularly:
Obviously, it is not easy but it kept me going. That is what pushed me to work harder and be more committed and disciplined in my work. I knew if I had to make a permanent place for myself in the team, I had to score big and consistently whenever I got an opportunity. I was always preparing myself for the opportunity. I am happy that I made it count when the opportunity came.
On team India’s recent success where they have won three of first four Test series in which Rahul has played:
I would just like to say that this is new Team India. We have everything it takes to win away from India as well. We are young, aggressive and play fearless cricket. No matter who we play or where we play, we will still be aggressive. The atmosphere and attitude in the team is so positive. We are ready to take on the challenge, and we are ready to go abroad and make ourselves count. The confidence in the team, among the boys and between one another, that is very good to see. I think this team is going to go a long way and achieve a lot of results.
Obviously, Virat (Kohli, the captain) has set high standards with his work ethic, consistency and discipline. It is very inspiring to see how hardworking he is. He doesn’t just do it for himself but takes all the other 14 guys along with him. He wants the team to get fitter and stronger, and be more aggressive. He is someone who has pushed us to get better and compete with the best in the world. The way he has been building the path for the boys has been quite fun.
On his marathon innings in West Indies where he batted more than seven hours (428 minutes) in Test cricket for the first time:
It did feel like I was finally batting like me. What people know me for is to get big scores for my team in the longer format. That knock made me feel comfortable.
After four to five Tests, you realise that it is the responsibility of the opener to get a big score so that the team can post a big total on the board, give the bowlers the cushion of a big first-innings score, and hopefully not bat a second time around. To be the No. 1 Test side, we need to win more matches and for that, we have to continuously post big totals.
Now that we have started playing with six batsmen and five bowlers, the responsibility on the batsmen and more so on the openers is much more. After the hundred, it was important for me to put my head down and continue batting the way I had till then and not try anything different or experiment.
On whether batting position matters to him especially after hitting his maiden T20I century after coming at No. 4:
Not ‘right now’, it will always be that way. I don’t think in a team sport you can have a fixed position. You should be willing to move up and down the order depending on what the team wants you to do. I am happy to bat anywhere. As long as I am doing the job for my team and country, I am happy.
On his transformation from a skinny guy to a man who looks quite strong now:
Those are the two things that have really improved in me. One is the mental side, and the other is the physical side. I have always been very religious about my training. I never let training take a backseat because I have faced a few injuries in the past and I also realise how important it is to stay fit if you want to play all formats and play international cricket for a long time.
Everybody in the team realises the shift in our mindset, and that we are trying to bring in a better fitness culture in sport (in India). Our trainers have got better as well. They have done a lot of studies on what is good for cricketers and what we need to do to be strong and light on our feet. We put in a lot of work into our fitness during the offseason and during the season, and you see the results on the field.
On how easy or difficult has it been to model himself as an all-format player:
It is definitely hard. You have to work that much harder. We realised that if you are a one-format player, it is difficult to be consistent. Playing all formats challenges different skill-sets makes you better and you keep yourself motivated to improve every day. Given how many games we play, and with so many different guys, everybody knows what your strengths and weaknesses are. You cannot let them get on top of you and attack your weak points.
On whether he is excited about the upcoming home season:
Yeah, it will be exciting to play at home. People who have watched you over a period of time are also excited to see us playing Test cricket in India. Apart from the series against South Africa last year, we haven’t played many Tests at home in the last two-three years. So, people will be excited to see some entertaining cricket.
Teams that are coming over are quality sides, and I am ready and feeling excited. Hopefully, I can carry my form and do well. Who we play doesn’t matter as long as we are going out there and playing hard cricket.