After an impressive outing with the bat during the West Indies tour, KL Rahul would be hoping to get into the playing eleven when India lock horns against New Zealand in the upcoming Test series. In his eight matches so far, the right-handed batsman has scored 3 centuries and 1 fifty. The Karnataka batsman recently had an interview with The Indian Express where he spoke on various topics.
On performing consistently in all formats after being initially labelled as a Test specialist by many:
I don’t think my batting changed in just the last one year. Yes, things have come together in the last one year. I think it’s a process which has grown in the last five to six years. As a young under-19 guy, I put in a lot of time in developing my skills. I would spend five to six hours in Bangalore — sometimes indoors, for long hours, against the bowling machine. I think all of that has made a difference in my stroke play and the control of strokes I play. If you ask my coaches or teammates back here (in Bangalore) they will tell you how I spend hours at the ground to get my skills better.
I worked very hard on my fitness in recent times. I don’t think there are too many technical changes in my batting. After the Sri Lanka series I came back and worked on my batting. There might be a few things I might have altered but I worked more on how to control my mind, how I can focus at the right time. That has been the most important thing. I also started training hard and have gotten fitter as I always believed that being strong and fit adds to your mental strength as well. It’s my performances that gave me the confidence. The flair was always there, people were just seeing it now.
On whether he consulted someone as he is finally getting the runs in shorter formats after once admitting “I used to over think sometimes as to how I will get runs in ODI’s and T20’s”:
If you are smart and intelligent, you will realise what mistakes you are doing and try to correct that. I knew I always used to over think and used to think about the results before focusing on my process. So decided to keep things simple. I knew I had the game, I had the strength to hit the ball outside the park. I just needed couple of good knocks to give me that confidence to get me going. Luckily for me, it happened in IPL and then confidence went higher. And once I got that confidence I wanted to carry on from there. I wanted to enjoy the game.
Then, the amount of runs you get, the kind of form you are in obviously gives more confidence and puts you in the right frame of mind. You are hitting the ball well, you are keeping things simple. That’s the state of mind any player wants to be in. Fortunately for me I have found that good mental state that I want to be in before the game. With the right game face and zone to be in. It’s all going well for me. I have worked on a few things in my batting, and that has helped me to perform consistently.
On the mental growth:
Obviously spending some time with the Indian dressing room or in the IPL dressing room, you are with these superstar-legends of the game. It’s all in their mind, and their mind is already one up on the bowler. I realise that it is very important — I used to do it before but I got more serious about it now. Now I try to put that in practice and try to get my mind ready for the challenge. When I go in the middle I don’t feel it’s a new situation for me anymore. In my mind I already have faced these challenges and conditions before.
On whether he changed anything with his batting technique:
I think I always had an upright stance but I get into the position much early even before ball is delivered. There is a ready position for a batsman, where you do little bit, some initial movement and you are in your ‘ready’ position. I worked a little bit on that and the timing of the initial movement. That I feel is the key thing for a batsman as to how he is balanced, how his head is after you do the initial movement. And timing of that becomes very important. Where is my head in that position? I had to work on that too. It gave me the time to pick the ball well and helped me in reading the line and length of the ball.
On who helped him in enabling these batting changes:
Coaches in the Indian team that includes Sanjay Bangar who told me that I can improve on these things. I have a personal coach as well, and earlier we had Ravi Shastri with us. I spoke to all these guys and got feedback. There are people who always support you whether you are in the Indian team or outside the Indian team. I want to learn from everybody, I am that kind of person.
On how has he gained the confidence of hitting sixes:
As I said, I knew I can do that. Unless I have been in this situation and I have done it, I cannot get that extra confidence. When I face tough situations, when I oversee such situations, I have the belief that I can do this. I try to maintain balance, try to watch the ball as hard as I can. I try to keep my game more simple in my mind and in my technique. I think the biggest difference in my batting is the control I have of my mind over my batting. How I stay balanced, and not try to over hit any ball. Play the ball on merit, keep the balance going.
On how much has he been influenced by Virat Kohli during his time with RCB:
Definitely a lot. I play alongside him during the IPL. He always backs the boys who work hard. He kept telling me to believe in myself. That I am just few knocks away from gaining that confidence and he said, that “you will be the player to come near me”. Kohli’s passion and dedication is remarkable. When he crosses that boundary line his gameface is on. I used to watch him on TV, the way he carried himself in Australia. His strength has been playing cricketing shots. When the ball is his range, he will go for it.