Star India batter KL Rahul opened up about his new role in the ODI setup on Sunday, saying that the team think-tank has asked him to bat at the number four position and also keep wickets. A genuine opener, Rahul batted at No.4 and kept wickets for India in the first match of the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh at Mirpur on Sunday. Rishabh Pant, who had initially been named in the ODI squad as the wicketkeeper-batsman, was released after consultation with the team’s medical experts. Issuing a clarification on him serving as India’s primary wicketkeeper-batsman in the series, Rahul said he has been doing it for the national team since 2020-21. The batter added that the role has been specifically assigned to him by the team think-tank.
“We have not played many ODIs in the past 6-7 months but if you look from 2020-’21, I have kept wickets and batted at four. I have been assigned this role by the team. I don’t exactly know the reason for Pant’s release. The medical team will be able to tell why Pant was released,” said the opener. The Lucknow Supergiants skipper also dwelt on the last half-an-hour of play in the first ODI, where Bangladesh, reeling at 136/9 and needing another 51 runs to win, but still managed to get over the line.
“You can expect the unexpected in this game. Such games keep happening, that’s cricket. The game is never won till the last ball. Mehidy’s innings and the way they fought till the end made the difference. One or two dropped chances hurt us too. But yeah, they played well. Bangladesh fought really hard today. We made some mistakes which we need to learn from and come back strongly. He (Mehidy) took risks and found the boundary. Bangladesh are playing at home and they are good here. They pose a tough challenge,” said the 30-year-old. Rahul stood out with the bat and was the top-scorer for India with a knock of 73 runs off 70 balls.
Sharing his thoughts on his outing with the willow, Rahul said, “It was just one of those days where I was timing the ball better than everyone else. Every shot that I played and the options I took worked for me today. Have been working on it (shots) even in the last couple of (net) sessions in Bangladesh. I tried to challenge myself on this pitch and I am pleased with my inning. I enjoyed batting today. But we would have liked 30-40 more runs. Siraj was batting well with me. Towards the end, I could have stayed longer and taken our score to 230-240. I fancied getting there,” said the batter.
Talking about India’s inexperienced bowling line-up, he said, “We don’t win or lose just because one department failed. It’s a team game and each skill has to click and come together for us to win. We have been plagued by injuries that have forced us to play different players. Having said that, India has no dearth of talent. The youngsters coming in need to be backed so that they can learn and improve as they go along. We are not fussing over one result not going our way. As a team, we will try to get better and come back stronger.” India lost the nail-biter by one wicket on Sunday. It was the team’s first ODI loss to Bangladesh after seven years.