Bengaluru: KL Rahul who turned 28 in April is seeing his fortunes on the upswing. The upswing has only be halted by the Covid19 scare. The International Cricketer who hails from Mangalore in Coastal Karnataka, was at the pinnacle of his career three years ago when he and Hardik Pandya faced severe criticism following their remarks on ‘Koffee with Karan’ and were called back home from Australia in January last year after being suspended by the BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (COA). From then it was all downhill.
But post his rehabilitation in the Indian team by chance at first and by merit later, his fortunes have evolved for the best he has had in a long time. “A lot of credit for my consistent performance goes to how differently I started thinking after 2019. With this suspension and with all that happened, I was tempted or I was in a way wanted to be selfish and play for myself, and I failed. So I told myself I need to go out and do what the team wants me to do,” Rahul told ‘India Today‘.
Recently, he was asked to keep for Team India after the young Indian wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant suffered a concussion in the 2nd ODI of the three-match series. Moreover, he came with some brilliant performances with his gloves on for the national team. The Indian skipper was really impressed with the way Rahul performed and he asked him to continue with the same in the New Zealand T20I series, although Virat Kohli had the choice to pick Rishabh Pant as a specialist wicketkeeper-batsman.
He turned out to be one of the main players that helped Team India in winning the first two games of the five-match series against BlackCaps. In the series opener, he scored 56 runs followed by his match-winning knock of 57* runs in the 2nd T20I. In an interview, Rahul also said that he is enjoying the role that is given to him by the team management. The Indian opener also recited the fact that he had done wicketkeeping for his IPL franchise and domestic team. So, he enjoys standing behind the stumps for Team India. “I am honestly loving it, in the international stage it might look that I am new to wicket-keeping, but I have done this role in the domestic cricket. I have done it for my IPL franchise, I enjoy staying behind the stumps,” KL Rahul said as quoted by DNA India. The netizens are quite astonished by the way KL Rahul is performing in every respective role. And, now they feel like there is no word like impossible in the dictionary of the 29-year-old and he can do whatever he wants in his life. And netizens went gaga over his performances for the men in blue – he played all the roles handed out to him – wicket keeping, opening the batting, batting at No.5 with aplomb. They then suggested that he can even take on the role of PM.
Rahul’s fortunes surged as he not only replaced Rishabh Pant in white-ball cricket but also scored 303 runs in five innings at an average of 75.75 and a strike rate of 114.77 in ODIs. Opening the batting in T20Is, the right-handed batsman scored 224 runs at an average of 56.00 and a strike rate of 144.51. The 2019 suspension changed my thought process, made me a consistent performer. Rahul said the suspension made him realize how short a cricketer’s shelf life is and he decided to channelize all his energies in the right direction. “We all know our careers are not too long and I realized after 2019 that I probably have a good 12 or 11 years left in me and I need to dedicate all my time and energy towards becoming a player and team man,” the 28-year-old stylish Karnataka batsman said.
“That mind-shift really helped and took a lot of pressure off me when I started focusing on wanting to do better for the team and be a part of champion teams and make a difference in the game.” He has always enjoyed the backing of Rohit Sharma and Rahul said he is a big fan of the India limited-overs vice-captain’s batting. “Humbled by Rohit’s words (that KL Rahul is the first choice and then it’s decided between me and Dhawan in T20Is for opening slot). I have been a huge fan of his batting and I have played with him for a few years now. “He is someone who is in the team, how do I say, like some cricketers get dumbstruck after watching Sachin Tendulkar, they don’t know what to say. When I am with Rohit off the field, I am still not been able to get through,” Rahul said.
Rahul thanked Rohit for having faith in him. “He is someone in the team who has given me the sense that he has a lot of faith in me and as a senior player, I have seen that he has backed me and stood by me on a lot of instances. “When senior players feel like there is a guy who can take responsibility, a player who has not played consistently for the country, it gives a lot of confidence.”