Having impressed one and all with his scintillating strokeplay in IPL 2016 for Royal Challengers Bangalore, India batsman KL Rahul is all set to embark on his new journey with Kings XI Punjab.
Rahul, who has represented Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the past, was roped in by the Punjab-based franchise for a whopping price tag of INR 11 crores during the last month’s IPL auction.
Talking about his new innings under the captaincy of Ravichandran Ashwin, Rahul stated that he is excited to take up the new challenge while being at the Punjab camp. The 25-year-old also admitted that he has learnt a lot during his time with Bangalore and Hyderabad franchises.
“You are always excited to start any new journey in life and this is one such thing. Yes, I have learnt a lot from RCB and other franchises like Sunrisers Hyderabad. Every franchise that you play for, you learn a lot about yourself and also learn from the teammates and the support staff. This will be a new experience and I am looking forward to it,” Rahul quoted by Cricketnext as saying.
“Like I said, the way I play the game doesn’t change. It will just be more responsibility on me and I love being that person that the team looks up to when it comes to winning games and also really looking forward to a couple of months in Punjab,” he added.
The Karnataka born opening batsman, who made his international debut back in 2014, also acknowledged that India skipper Virat Kohli has been a huge inspiration for him.
“He is an extremely good player and we all know the numbers that he has achieved in the years that he has played so yeah, he is a big inspiration and it is great to have a captain like him in the team who leads from the front,” KL Rahul said.
Rahul went on his maiden South Africa tour with plenty of expectations on his shoulder. However, the young opener couldn’t quite prove his mettle against the lethal Proteas pace attack during the Tests series. While Rahul didn’t find a place in the playing XI in the first Test at Cape Town, he registered the scores of 10, 4, 0 and 16 in the two Tests he had featured in.
When asked about the testing time in South Africa, Rahul said: “Being with the national team, you are always put under a lot of pressure, not just with your skills, but mentally and physically all the time. You kind of figure out a way on how to keep yourself motivated, how to keep fit and how to keep performing day-in and day-out and those are the things that I have learnt from the big boys in the Indian team who keep doing so well consistently.”
Rahul is thought to be KXIP’s first-choice wicket-keeper and the batsman has changed his style of training to adapt to the challenges that come with keeping wickets.
“When it comes to training, it has changed a lot. I am not used to keeping wickets for a long time. It's been the IPL and a few matches here and there for my state. Physically, I have changed the way I train as I have to keep day-in and day-out for a long time as it takes a lot out of my body. I am looking to get stronger and hopefully keep away from injuries,” he revealed.
Given the flexibility of Rahul’s batting position, he can be termed as the most versatile batsman around. He has opened in Tests while batted in the middle-order in shorter formats. But for Rahul, it is the demands of the team that holds the uppermost priority.
“You don't get to choose. You have to be prepared for whatever challenges are thrown at you - be it wicket-keeping, batting up the order or in the middle order. It's up to the team management and captain what roles they want to give me,” Rahul concluded.