Mumbai: When MS Dhoni decided to hang up his long-form boots — after the Boxing Day Test against Australia in 2014 — stepped in KL Rahul. The right-handed batsman, also a part-time wicketkeeper, wanted to learn from his senior but the dreams remained unfulfilled. The former Test skipper’s decision to tour Zimbabwe for the limited-overs series (three ODIs and as many T20Is) is a blessing for youngsters and Rahul is no exception.
“I was sad when he retired from Tests. I was hoping to play more Test cricket with him so that I could get to learn more about the game. He comes with so much experience, so many pressure games, ups and downs; learning from him would have been great. I am happy it is finally happening. I have the opportunity to spend some more time with him,” said Rahul, who is set to make his ODI debut (again under Dhoni) in the African nation.
Rahul started his Test career under Dhoni’s leadership but he flourished when Virat Kohli started leading the side.
“My two Test hundreds (against Australia and Sri Lanka) came with Virat. Whenever I have performed, he has been around. He oozes positive energy and inspires people to achieve things which they don’t think they can. His belief drives rest of the team,” added Rahul, who struck a chord with the maverick India batsman in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“It is an absolute pleasure batting with Virat. I have been lucky to share the dressing room with him,” said the Karnataka batsman.
Rahul believes his Test experience is a strong addition to his ODI resume. It makes him a stronger candidate compared to other cricketers who feel nervous in their first international appearance.
“I am happy to play in all formats, thanks to my performances in the IPL. I am confident and positive in approach going into the series against Zimbabwe. I will like to keep things simple and do things I have been doing so far – strong basics, aggression; that’s how I have played my cricket,” said Rahul, who finished with 397 runs, which included four half-centuries, five catches and four stumpings in the recently concluded IPL.
“I’ve had international exposure and I know the pressure involved. It is very different from domestic cricket. There is a lot going on in the mind and you don’t know what to expect when you first go in there, but having played Test matches before and being a part of the team for two or three series, I know how I can overcome early jitters which youngsters face on debut,” he added.
Rahul is better prepared for ODI cricket but has no idea about the reshuffled Zimbabwe squad.
The hosts sacked coach Dav Whatmore and skipper Hamilton Masakadza and named leg-spinner Graeme Cremer as the new captain. Former South Africa quick Makhaya Ntini is the interim coach.
“Honestly, I haven’t seen their team at all. I have no clue who I am going to be up against,” asserted Rahul....