Centurion [South Africa], December 24 (ANI): Life has come a full circle for KL Rahul who has been appointed the Test vice-captain of India. Being the deputy to Virat Kohli and a part of the Indian think tank will give him more responsibility to give his side a solid start in the fast and bouncy conditions of South Africa.
He is set to open the batting with his statemate Mayank Agarwal in the first Test match at Centurion.
“Look obviously 6-7 months ago I never thought that I will be able to play Test cricket again but things have turned around quite quickly. Very happy, grateful and very honoured that such a huge responsibility is being given to me and looking forward to giving my best as I always do and try and help the team achieve more success.” said KL Rahul in a conversation with Mayank Agarwal in a video posted by BCCI.tv.
Vice-captaincy comes with a lot of responsibility and the Karnataka lad is used to it as he has already captained the Punjab Kings team in the IPL. He will also have to lead the way as an opener and show the rest of the batters how to bat in these tough South African conditions.
“I started getting a few grey hairs from IPL captaincy, not the responsibility here but if it comes I will be happy because getting such a huge responsibility and honour and anyone would take that no one would worry about the grey hair.” explained KL Rahul on BCCI.tv.
KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal have played together for a while now. The pair have known each other for many years, having shared the dressing room for Karnataka at Under-13, for the Karnataka Ranji team and also opened for the Punjab Kings in the IPL. And now to open for your country in a Test match is even more special.
“My journey has been beautiful I would not have had it better in any other way. You (Mayank Agarwal) also know being part of my journey and I have been part of yours and we have both had to work really hard to get to where we have gotten. For both of us, it has been a beautiful journey. We never dreamt or thought that we will play for the country together. Obviously, it was our dream to play for the country but both of us were like whether it will happen. Maybe it may not happen but we never gave up on our dreams and we tried harder and harder today we are both here and it is amazing to sometimes sit back and think of how we started and where we are today is just magical to me and for me, I just feel it is like a beginning for me and for both of us. It is still a long way for us to go and we can really make it count and the understandings and friendships we have shared for so many years will only help us build better partnership and hopefully win a lot of games for our country.” shared KL Rahul about the long journey he had en route to his vice-captaincy.
KL Rahul will play his first Test match as vice-captain at the Boxing Day Test match in Centurion and coincidently it is the Boxing Day Test match when he made his Test debut in Melbourne.
“I have bitter-sweet memories of Boxing Day, to be honest. I debuted in a Boxing Day game in Australia which did not go great. I lost my position again in a Boxing Day game to you which I was very happy for you but obviously, I knew it was coming for me because I had not put in the performances which were ok but I felt like that is the end for me. I am a lot different to who I was in Australia in 2018-2019 and who I was in 2014 when I debuted. I am a lot more balanced in my approach towards the game and excited and kicked about playing a Boxing Day Test match in Centurion and trying to do the best for my team. Hopefully, me and you can go out there on 26th December and get our team off to a great start and have a great series.” said KL Rahul on BCCI.tv.
Just like Rahul Mayank Agarwal too made his Test debut in the Boxing Day Test match in Melbourne and made a decent start to his Test career scoring 76 runs in the first innings and 42 in the 2nd innings in Melbourne.
“This Boxing Day I remember I had a very small and a good conversation that we had when we were playing for Karnataka that it would be the nicest to open the innings for India together and something that has happened in Australia and something that I really enjoyed. Hopefully, it will last longer this time.” said Mayank Agarwal in a conversation with KL Rahul on BCCI.tv.
Challenges for Indian batsmen will be to counter the pace and bounce of South Africa where the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi will be bowling full throttle. But the Indian team has the best person to guide them in these conditions and he is Head Coach Rahul Dravid. The team has already started practising in Centurion under the watchful eyes of Dravid.
“I think having Rahul Dravid with us this time is also very helpful. He has played a lot of cricket. He has scored a lot of runs and in the three and four days of training he has had a lot of experiences to share and you know he is really helping us prepare in the best way we can. So, that is a huge boost for us and I think you (Mayank Agarwal) have had a great experience with him playing in the India A’s and you have played a lot of cricket under him.” said KL Rahul on Rahul Dravid as India’s Head coach.
Mayank Agarwal too is used to the way Rahul Dravid guides and mentors the side and he has enjoyed the stint he has had with him so far.
“He has just been the person who talks about understanding your game, understanding yourself and understanding your mind space. If you can work that out, if you can sort that out then more often than not you are giving yourself the best possible chance to succeed and knowing him he is the man who really thrives and puts an onus on good strong preparation. So, yeah we have had quality sessions over here and we are really looking forward to playing the Test match.” said Mayank Agarwal in a conversation with KL Rahul on BCCI.tv.
The 29-year-old Rahul has played 40 matches so far and scored 2321 runs at an average of 35.16 with six centuries to his name. KL Rahul also played in India’s last tour to the ‘Rainbow Nation’ scoring only 30 runs in 4 innings. So, he is certainly aware that scoring runs in those conditions are not easy at all.
“The challenge here in South Africa is a bit of spongy bounce that the South African pitches have especially here in Centurion. I felt like you will have to be more patient in South Africa and we know what kind of good fast bowling attack South Africa has always had. Having watched sitting on the sidelines last time Virat had a great series and once you got through the new ball and once you get used to the pace and bounce of the wicket, the outfields are quick and the challenge for us and for openers will be those first 30-35 overs with the new ball. Try and be patient and try and leave the balls outside off-stump and know which balls to score off. Once we get used to that then we will really enjoy batting here.” said KL Rahul on BCCI.tv.
India’s success in South Africa is not only the responsibility of the batters but also the pacers as they will get pacer friendly pitches to bat on.
“Our fast bowlers are very competitive in the nets and they don’t serve as any juicy half volleys. Every ball is bowled at match intensity and especially when they come outside of India to see such fast bouncy wickets they get really excited. They forget that they are in the same team which in turn has helped as batsmen a lot and also the sidearm guys that we have bowled at a really sharp pace and facing all of them has had a huge part to play and in the success, we have had as batsmen in foreign conditions.” said KL Rahul.
Ahead of the first Test match, all eyes will be on these two Karnataka lads as they share a great equation opening the innings for their state team and IPL franchise.
“Mayank has really enjoyed playing the quicks when we were younger so it will be a great challenge for both of us in South Africa. So, I am really excited. Really looking forward to a great series and hopefully we can sit down and have a chat in a few months time and have great memories of SA.” told KL Rahul on BCCI.tv.
Mayank Agarwal made a roaring start to his Test career and then lost his place but now he has once again got the opportunity with injury to India’s white-ball captain Rohit Sharma.
“It is not a fresh start but it is more about one year that went by who has a lot to do with understanding myself and understanding what ticks me and had not worked for me. And then I am just glad that I have been able to come back and put in the performances and I just hope to continue doing the same.” said Mayank Agarwal.
India will take on South Africa in the first Test match of the series in Centurion starting December 26 and the onus will be on these two to give India a solid start. With KL Rahul becoming vice-captain and Mayank Agarwal coming after scoring a century against New Zealand on home soil will raise the expectations from these two. (ANI)