KL Rahul, India's vice-captain, spoke about working on himself to become a better opener and on his strike rate issue in the upcoming T20I series against Australia and next series against South Africa as the Men in Blue prepare for the T20 World Cup 2022.
Rahul had made his comeback to the Indian team against Zimbabwe after a three-month hiatus due to injury. In the recently-concluded Asia Cup, he managed to score 132 runs in five matches, but the rate at which they came was debatable and thanks to Virat Kohli’s T20I century against Afghanistan, calls have been made for him to open with Rohit Sharma.
However, on Sunday, skipper Rohit confirmed that KL Rahul would open the batting in the T20 World Cup with Kohli being the third or backup opener.
KL Rahul's strike rate has always been a point of debate and in the 61 T20Is he has played for India, he has a strike rate of 140.91. However, there have been times when the batter has found the going tough, the match against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup comes to mind, where he scored 36 runs off 39 balls.
"Look, obviously something that every player wants to work on. No one is perfect, everybody is working towards something, obviously strike-rates are taken on an overall basis. You never see when a batter has played at a certain strike-rate, whether it was important to play for him to play at 200 strike-rate or whether the team could have still won with him playing at 120-130. These are the things that no one analyses,” Rahul said in a press conference on eve of the first T20I against Australia.
"Yes, it is something that I am working at, the roles that have been defined to each player in last 10-12 months have been very clear, everyone is working towards it. And, I am just working towards how can I better myself as an opening batter and how I can have an impact for my team whenever I go out to bat," he added.
Further talking on the same topic, Rahul said: "There can be criticism for many things. But the most important thing for a player is that what his captain, coach and teammates think of him in the dressing room. Only we know what role is expected of each player. Everyone is trying to give their best, but not everyone can succeed in each game. It is the kind of environment we have created where players are not scared to commit mistakes or fail."
Rahul has come in for some criticism for his slow batting and for his habit of taking unnecessary time to get set. Recently, the Indian team batting has tried to go after the bowling from the start to maximize the 6-over powerplay to their advantage.
"Anyone can criticise but we criticise ourselves more than any of you do because we are representing our country, you want to win games for your country, and we want to win the World Cup. All of these things are in our mind, if we do not do well, it hurts us as well. What goes in our group, that is what is important. The captain and coach are always encouraging players, not just when they are doing well but also when they are going through a tough time which is what a player wants to see, which is any individual would want to see, a little bit support, a little bit of care when someone is down," he added.