‘Team was ready this time for a fight’, says KL Rahul on Cape Town Test win

SA vs IND: Cape Town Test scripts history to become shortest-ever red-ball match. — IANS

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) India wicket-keeper batter KL Rahul opened up about the mental shift that fueled India’s comeback against South Africa defeating the host by seven wickets in the second match at Cape Town.

After going one-game down in a two-match Test series, India bounced back in the second match securing a seven-wicket victory and levelled the series. With the second match decided in four and a half sessions, at 624 balls (107 overs), the Cape Town Test match is the shortest-ever completed game in the history of the longest format of the game.

Reflecting on the previous test match, Rahul acknowledged the unexpected challenge posed by the opposition, emphasizing the team’s readiness and the desire to bounce back.

Speaking on Star Sports ‘Believe’ series, Rahul said: “There was a little bit of change in planning and attitude. “We weren’t 100% during our last match in terms of batting or bowling. The extra edge or fire was missing, credit to South Africa as well.

“We enjoy playing test cricket, value playing for our country, and test victories outside of India mean a lot to us. For last 4-5 years, we’ve been a team that’s really competed and we have won series outside of India, so we weren’t ready for it and it was a huge hit for us, but it speaks volumes of how much we enjoy playing test cricket and how much we value playing for our country and how much test victories outside of India mean to us.

So, it was just a mental shift during the turnaround time of one day. We were more ready this time and we were ready for a fight,” Rahul explained.

The 31-year-old Rahul picked up the injury while fielding during an IPL 2023 match against Royal Challengers Bangalore. He abruptly stopped while chasing the ball and eventually had to be helped off the field by the team’s support staff.

This injury cost him the opportunity to represent India in the World Test Championship final, where the team faced a significant 209-run loss against Australia.

Discussing his personal journey, Rahul shared insights into his comeback from injury. The time off allowed him to rediscover his love for the game. “Staying alone was the best thing for me. I realized how much I love the game and how much I miss playing it,” he said.

After enduring criticism and injuries, Rahul underwent a mental switch. “Whatever opportunities you get, you enjoy it, whether you do well or not. Keep going out there and realize that whatever I can do for the betterment of the game, makes it a bit more enjoyable. I was not able to score good runs before injury and there was a lot of criticism and I wasn’t enjoying my cricket and being in the ground and getting criticized so often.”

“So that break really helped me and when I started training after surgery, there was some freshness and new energy within me. I realized how much I love the game and how much I miss playing the game, whether it is doing well or not doing well, that’s secondary but just being on the field wearing the blues or wearing the whites you really sense and understand how much you love this game, and this is all we’ve always done since we were kids.”

His perspective on enjoying the game despite uncertainties resonated with his approach. “After so many injuries, I go in with the mindset that it will all end at some point, but you might enjoy what you have in front of you rather than thinking of criticism or being out of the team,” Rahul shared.

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