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, KL Rahul had the experience of leading the Indian side in Johannesburg during the second Test against South Africa in January 2022.
KL Rahul on Friday recalled the exchange he had with regular skipper Virat Kohli on the morning of that Test which came as a “huge surprise” to him. Virat Kohli had injured his back ahead of the Johannesburg match and hence KL Rahul, who was the vice-captain of the team, was given the responsibility to lead the side. Virat 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.
KL Rahul Was Surprised As He Didn’t Expect Captaincy To Come So Quickly
Speaking on Red Bull Cricket Room on Clubhouse, KL Rahul recalled that he didn’t expect captaincy to come so quickly to him before revealing the words Virat Kohli said to him that left him surprised.
“Like everyone else, it came to me as a huge surprise to me,” said KL 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.”
KL Rahul was put in charge of the team after Virat Kohli had missed the fixture due to an injury. Dean Elgar struck a gritty, unbeaten 96 as South Africa chased down 240 with seven wickets in hand to consign India to their first-ever defeat in Johannesburg.
KL Rahul: It Was A Great Learning To Be The Test Captain Although It Wasn’t Pleasing To Start Off With A Loss
Unfortunately for KL Rahul, India had lost the Test match by seven wickets leaving the series level at 1-1. But KL 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.
KL 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. KL Rahul had a shameful record registered his name after hosts South Africa defeated India in the 3rd and final ODI of the series in Cape Town. With this defeat, KL Rahul has become the first Indian to lose the first three ODIs as a captain.
South Africa 229 (Petersen 62, Bavuma 51, Thakur 7-61) and 243 for 3 (Elgar 96*, van der Dussen 40, Ashwin 1-26) beat India 202 (Rahul 50, Ashwin 46, Jansen 4-31, Rabada 3-64, Olivier 3-64) and 266 (Rahane 58, Ngidi 3-43, Jansen 3-67) by seven wickets