KL Rahul will have his task cut out to break into the playing XI in the Tests against South Africa. © AFP
KL Rahul will have his task cut out to break into the playing XI in the Tests against South Africa. © AFP

There has been a surge of new players in Indian Test team of late and Karnataka opener KL Rahul leads the pack. After a string of consistent performances at the domestic circuit, he was duly selected to the Indian team for the tour to Australia earlier this year. However, since making his debut on that tour, he has had a topsy-turvy ride so far. Out of the 10 innings that he has played at the highest level, seven have been single digit scores while two have been hundreds. His moderate average of 25.60 from five Tests doesn’t quite justify the talent he possesses, but the young cricketer is working hard towards becoming a better cricketer and cementing his place in the team. Also Read: Board President’s XI vs South Africa; young players look to impress.

As he approaches probably the biggest series of his short career so far against the mighty South Africans, he spoke with the Times of India on a wide range of issues. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

His journey in international cricket and the takeaway: Rahul says that it has been a rollercoaster ride as he has seen a lot of highs and lows so far. He believes each day is a learning experience and he is trying to learn from mistakes and success and see what he can do to improve his game. He’s more focused on consistency now and wants to take his game to the next level. He had never played in Sri Lanka before so mistakes were bound to happen. Nevertheless, he has learnt from his mistakes and in the end it was a great feeling for him to be a part of the winning team. He learnt a lot in Australia too.

Fixing the errors after a poor knock: Rahul hopes that with time and by playing more matches, he’ll learn to deal with success and failure. A poor knock always teaches him to keep working hard and stay focused.

Life as an international cricketer: He says that after two international centuries, people look at him in a different way. Bu he has the sense of responsibility and he has become more disciplined and focused. As a young enthusiastic kid, he’s just excited to see how his international career shapes up and how far he goes.

Playing South Africa at home: Rahul believes it is going to be a wonderful experience because these are familiar conditions. But then, it won’t be much different from playing away because it still does not change the fact that you are playing international cricket. He doesn’t think there will be pressure, because he firmly believes if he has to climb the ladder in international cricket, he has to learn to soak in the pressure and enjoy the game. Also Read: India must learn from mistakes: Sandeep Patil

On the competition for the openers’ slots: He feels the competition makes every individual stronger from within and pushes him to work harder and perform at every opportunity given. He’s excited to learn from the guys he’s sharing the dressing room with.

On playing under and alongside Virat Kohli: He says he shares a comfortable relationship with the Indian Test captain. He has had the opportunity to play with him at Royal Challengers Bangalore as well and he has always admired the way Virat bats and goes about his game. He believes Virat is a good leader who gets everybody to be on the same page and also pushes the team to do well, be aggressive and adds that extra bit to the team’s energy and thought process. His work-ethic is very inspiring. He also shares he loves to bat with Kohli, as he makes batting look so easy.

Experience with Dale Steyn at Sunrisers Hyderabad: He says Dale Steyn has been supportive of his game. Steyn believes in him which in turn helps him believe in himself. Facing him in Tests will be a different challenge. But he’s going to go out there and enjoy the moment.

Working with Rahul Dravid during the India ‘A’ stint: Rahul got some good time with Dravid at the nets. He feels anybody who gets a chance to pick Rahul Dravid’s brain, will be more than happy. He constantly asked the legend about how the Sri Lankan wickets would behave, the way he should prepare and his thoughts on his batting. To learn from the experience of a legend is invaluable.

On Ravi Shastri: Rahul says Shastri is a positive person. He hasn’t heard a negative word coming from Shastri. He is a tough guy who loved playing fearless cricket. That is what he is constantly encouraging the team to do.