After sitting on the sidelines post IPL 2022 due to an injury, right-handed batter KL Rahul will make his much-awaited return in the three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe, beginning Thursday. Originally, Rahul was not named in the squad, but after attaining full fitness, he was named in the team, not just as a player, but as skipper, replacing Shikhar Dhawan, who will now act as his deputy. On the eve of the first ODI, Rahul addressed a press conference where he spoke about his preparation and the challenge that lies ahead.
“I have enjoyed it, it has been good travelling around the world, especially the last 2 years have been tough for everybody around the world, and we had an opportunity to travel and play cricket and do what we love. That was great for us, to continue to play cricket. It was tough no doubt, travelling, being in bubbles. But I think we played our best cricket as well,” said Rahul.
“Same for me individually, performed in some tough conditions. This is what you train to do, to get your team off to good starts as opening batter and win as many games as you can. Yes, injuries are part of the sport, that part of the sport has not been kind to me but that is part of life. You have to take the good and bad,” he added.
Talking about how his captaincy style is different from Rohit Sharma or MS Dhoni, Rahul said: “I do not compare. The names you have taken, I cannot even compare myself with these guys as leader. Their numbers and achievement are far greater. What they have done for the country, I do not think anyone should be put in the same bracket as them. You should not be comparing anybody, I am still young and this is my second series as captain.”
“I have played under them both and I have learnt a lot. You learn good qualities from teammates, and I have picked up some qualities from these guys. When the captain is true to himself, it spreads in the team. I am a calm person so I cannot go out there and try and be something else. I believe that is not fair to myself and the team. You let the other players express themselves like they want to,” he added.
When asked about his captaincy, Rahul said: “First of all I look at myself as a player. I am only captain or leader once you cross the boundary line, we have played together for a long time, with the same group. We have played a lot of IPL cricket together, there is a lot of respect for the talent everybody has and how they have performed. It is good fun, for me, I have been away for two months, so just to get back into that Indian dressing room, and to have laughter around the group is great. You try to have a quiet word with everybody and share your experiences of what the conditions were when you last played here.”
“It is a great challenge for me as a leader to get this young group to perform to the best of their ability. It is important for any player to be shown faith by the selectors, captain, or coach. It gives you so much confidence. Knowing that your support team is backing you even when you have missed the last two months, knowing what you have done for the country, makes it easy. That gives you a lot of confidence and it is important. Players thrive when there is a comfortable environment. That is when a player can go from a good player to perhaps a great player,” he added.
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