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Mon. Dec 5th, 2022
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GUWAHATI: He was back among the runs with the slow but steady innings of 51 runs in the first match of the ongoing T20 International series against South Africa. But on Sunday at Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati, India’s vice-captain in the shortest format of the game — KL Rahul — was back in form hitting a 28-ball 57.
With bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah’s injured back adding to Rahul Dravid-coached side’s growing uncertainties over a perfect team combination going into the upcoming T20 World Cup Down Under, Rahul’s coming back into his fluid best augurs well for the highest-ranked T20 team in the world.
Much has been talked about his slow T20I half-century in Thiruvananthapuram – the slowest ever in T20I history by a player from a Test nation – but on Sunday the wristy Bangalorean rose to the occasion when India were asked to bat first and scored at a strike rate of 200-plus to set the platform for the next batters to take the score to 237.
Some delicious hits by Rahul — flicked off the pads onto the stands — made not just the Guwahati spectators delirious with joy but the lanky batter assured that he is in a perfect head space and balance.
Asked if the sixes were effortless and instinctive as it looked from the stands, Rahul said at the post match press conference after India’s series-sealing win on Sunday, “There is a certain gift that all of us have gotten since birth and that is why we are playing for the country. We obviously train really hard.
“That shot is something that I have practised a lot and it feels nice when it comes off in the game. So, it is instinctive. In T20 cricket you have to try to get yourself in positions where you can hit sixes, I try to do that. When bowlers are bowling at 145 kmph there’s not much time. It is instinct and a lot of hard work over the years.”
“Going at a higher strike rate was a demand. When you are batting first you obviously want to give yourself a couple of overs to assess the conditions to see what are the shots you can play, you talk to your partner. You sort of give yourself a target and then you try and play accordingly. We have always tried to be more aggressive, take a lot of risks after the last T20 World Cup,” the 30-year-old added.
India batters fired in unison to tick some of the boxes ahead of T20 World Cup but David Miller‘s second T20I ton and his 174-run unbeaten stand with Quinton de Kock left a lot to be desired in the bowling front as India won the match by just 16 runs in the end even after setting their fourth highest T20I total.
“Overall as a team there’s a lot that we need to get better at. Not only for us but for all teams. These are great opportunities for all teams to experiment and to try and see what works for them. Just because we got 237 doesn’t mean there is no room for us to improve as a batting unit. In the same way, there is a lot of room for the bowlers to improve as well,” was the Team India deputy’s opinion.
“In the last game they restricted the team to 106 and today they went for runs. You have to take into consideration the conditions also. The pitch, it was humid, and there was dew, so it was hard for the bowlers to grip the ball. And when the opposition is chasing 240, you know batters are going to come hard, try and smash every ball. It becomes a little difficult for the bowlers to execute their plans. That’s the challenge for us as we play more games, that is something we talk about,” Rahul said, offering almost a perfect defence for his bowling teammates.

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