Asia Cup 2018: ODI inconsistency frustrates KL Rahul, but he remains in India’s plans
KL Rahul made 60 off 66 balls against Afghanistan. @AFP

India batsman KL Rahul  has admitted that his own inconsistent form as an ODI batsman has not helped his case for longer selection but that despite being in and out of the side the management had outlined a clear plan for him.

Speaking to reporters after an “exciting” tie between Afghanistan in their 2018 Asia Cup Super Four match in Dubai on Tuesday, in which he got his first game of the Asia Cup and made 60 off 66 balls, Rahul said that staying positive while on the sidelines was critical to his approach.

“The team management has sat me down and explained exactly what they expect out of me. I needed to know personally also, to kind of prepare and know in which direction I’m heading,” said the 29-year-old. “Whenever I don’t get a chance, I use my time to work on my skill and improve my fitness. The amount of cricket we play, the number of days we’re on the road, it’s hard to keep fit. When I don’t play, it’s easy to sulk and ask the same question: ‘Why am I not playing?’ But I try to use the time to improve my skill, get better with my fitness and make the most of it when I get a chance.”

Rahul’s 13 ODIs have been scattered across a memorable debut against Zimbabwe in July 2016, when he scored a match-winning century. He added 33 and 63 not out in that low-key series in Zimbabwe, but then slowed down with innings of 8, 5, 11, 4, 17 and 7 and was dropped. In three innings against Sri Lanka last August, he batted at Nos 3, 4 and 5 and struggled against spin.

Returning to the ODI squad after a successful IPL for Kings XI Punjab, Rahul played two of India’s three ODIs in England in July with returns of 9* and 0. Now, after one game as an opener in the Asia Cup, Rahul stressed that batting in the top order was where he was most comfortable but that he was willing to slot in wherever the team needed him to.

“Look, it’s been challenging of course to bat in different positions, and some positions which I haven’t been comfortable with. I’ve always batted at the top of the order from junior cricket, that’s the most comfortable position for me,” he said. “But in a team sport, you need to be flexible and whatever responsibility the team gives you. You need to put your hand up and try to do the best you can. Unfortunately, for me, the chances I’ve got in the middle order haven’t really gone my way. Again, I just look to keep working hard, keep improving my game and whatever opportunities I get, I try to give it my best shot.”