1st Test: Had to learn to hold back some shots: Rahul on his revival

Time outside the Test playing XI has provided opportunity to clear cluttered mind, said K.L. Rahul, who hit 84 as opener to guide India to a 95-run first innings lead over England in the ongoing first Test here.

“I used to have lots of doubts in my mind on the shots I play — 2-3 different shots for every ball even in red ball cricket. So that was something I realised I had to learn to control,” said Rahul, who had last played a Test match in August-September, 2019.

“When the wicket is challenging or we are playing against a good bowler or when the ball is swinging, we need to hold back some shots — so those are the things I tried to work on and those were the learnings from when I was not playing Test cricket,” added Rahul on Friday night.

Rahul’s failures in England in 2018, although he scored a century in the fifth and final Test at The Oval, had put a question mark on his ability to bat especially in the opening position.

Prior to the tour of England, he was earmarked for the middle-order. In fact, former India selector Gagan Khoda had told IANS recently that he thought middle-order is the ideal place for him.

Given an opportunity to bat at No. 5 in the warm-up match, Rahul scored a century against County Select XI last month.

“Anything that I have learnt over the last two years is be ready to do anything. I have been asked to do different roles a lot of times and I enjoyed doing them and this was another opportunity for me to go out there and challenge myself,” he told media.

“Obviously, [in] the Test cricket that I have played so far, I have opened the batting so that is something that I have done all my life. It wasn’t something new, I knew how to go about the innings and how to build an innings. So I wanted to go out there and grab the opportunity and make the most of it,” he added.

The time outside, as he mentioned, helped him in shot selection.

“Sitting outside, watching the games, watching batsmen score runs was good enough for me. In any format, it is important that your shot selection is spot on. So yeah, happy that I could go out there and show discipline and get my team to a good start and put them in a good position.”

The 29-year-old Karnataka batsman said that he has been taught to be an all-condition player right since childhood.

“I am a strong believer that in a team sport you have to be ready to do whatever the team asks you to do. That is how I was taught cricket. That is how I was raised by my coaches in junior days. You need to be an all-condition player, you need to be an all-format player, you need to be able to perform for your team in whatever position your team needs you to. So, yeah, I take it as a challenge and I enjoy it. Sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn’t. But it always makes you learn a lot about your batting and about yourself. I am happy I always get challenge.”

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