“It’s disappointing,” KL Rahul rues throwing away promising starts
KL Rahul is bowled by Jason Holder on 48. (AFP Image)

MANCHESTER: KL Rahul has not done badly since he was promoted to replace Shikhar Dhawan for India at the top. With scored of 57, 30 and 48, Rahul has had good starts, but the lack of converting them into something substantial – most likely missing out on a century has left Rahul disappointed. ALSO READ: India knock out West Indies to remain unbeaten

Against Pakistan, Rahul partnered Rohit Sharma in a stand of 136 for the opening wicket, which laid the base for a strong India total. Against Afghanistan, on a slow, sluggish pitch, Rahul once again showed intent before falling to an audacious reverse-sweep. Next, against West Indies, Rahul, looking set to bat long in the company of his captain Virat Kohli, played a shot which can be best explained a mix of drive and a flick.

Knowing how heavily India are reliant on their top three, Rahul admitted he was disappointed with his failure to not take off but insisted there are positives he is taking forward by the time he is getting to spend at the crease. ALSO READ: We always back Dhoni, he has won so many games – Kohli

“A bit disappointing. After doing the hard work and after getting through the first 10 overs or 15 overs, or as an opening batsmen to get the first 25, 30 runs is the hardest time. And to do that when the time comes to accelerate and maybe take the game deeper so our lower order can come in and play freely, like how they can damage – we know they come after 35 or at 40, they can do maximum damage,” Rahul said after India’s handsome 125-run win over West Indies.

“So it’s important that we do that and that’s the plan, that’s the role of the top three, top four. So a bit disappointed that I haven’t been able to do that. But again I can sit – I will sit and assess, but it won’t worry me that much because there are a lot of things I’m doing right, and I know that the mistakes I’ve made I can learn from them and get better.”

After Rohit was dismissed early, Rahul and Kohli added 69 runs for the second wicket. But once Rahul was dismissed two short of a half-century, the next two batsmen – Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav were sent back cheaply. Suddenly, India, from 98/1 had slipped to 140/4, which once again ignited the debate surrounding the concerns surrounding India’s middle order.

India ended up scoring 268/7 due to MS Dhoni‘s unbeaten half-century and Hardik Pandya‘s 46 and considering the nature of the wicket, Rahul reckoned it was a total good enough for the team batting first.

“After the first 10 overs, the check we had in the middle, me and Rohit and then me and Virat, what we assessed. And the message we sent into the dressing room was the same thing, that this is not a 300, 330 wicket; it’s a 260, 270 wicket. We need to keep that in mind and try to play that way,” he said.

“And we know that if there are two set batsmen by 35th, 40th over, we will end up getting maybe 10, 15 runs extra, which didn’t happen, but we still managed to get 260 on this wicket. We still managed to get 240-odd in Southampton which is good. But there’s – the only area where we can improve as a batting unit is that set batsman has to go on and bat longer and get a bigger score.

“The last two wickets haven’t been the easiest to bat. Yet, without none of us scoring a hundred, we still managed to get 240 and 260, 260-plus today, which is great, which only gives us more confidence in our batting unit, knowing that if one of us or two of us go on to get a big 50 or a big hundred, it will just make it easier to get us to 300.”

With their demolition of West Indies, India are now the only side in the tournament who are yet to be beaten. Their next opponents are England, who have received a wake-up call following back-to-back defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia but Rahul mentioned that England’s recent bump is not a concern to the Indian team.

“I don’t think any team goes in with that kind of mindset. We all want to do and perform the best we can as individuals and as teams. If we play the best cricket and if we play the kind of cricket that we’ve been playing in the last four or five games. That will be where – we’ll end up most probably on the winning side,” he said.

“Again winning and losing isn’t what we’re focused on right now. And everybody individually and as a team, we’re focused on doing, getting our plans right, executing our skills right and again a big game against England. So hopefully the confidence and the momentum that we have we can carry that to Birmingham and it will be great to get more wins.”