India's KL Rahul during a practice session
India's KL Rahul during a practice session at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, in Lucknow, on October 28, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

Lucknow: India's KL Rahul hopes to have "happier memories" of Lucknow in the World Cup clash against holders England on Sunday after he suffered a serious injury at the venue on his last visit.

Unbeaten India take on a struggling England team in this northern Indian city, the home base of an Indian Premier League franchise captained by Rahul.

But he carries some painful memories of Lucknow's Ekana Stadium after he injured his thigh while fielding in this year's IPL T20 tournament and was helped off the ground in visible discomfort.

The injury kept him out for five months before he returned to the team during the Asia Cup tournament won by India in Sri Lanka last month and made the squad for the World Cup.

"I am a little sad about the injury that I had, it kept me out of the game for 4-5 months. That was a tough time," Rahul told reporters on Saturday.

"Whoever has an injury, if you ask anyone - they undergo surgery and to come back, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of patience and you have to go through that which is not very easy."

Rahul made a strong comeback post-injury with a match-winning century against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup and smashed 97 not out in a win over Australia in the World Cup.

But coming back to the scene of his injury, Rahul wants to put to rest the pain of the past with a good performance.

"In cricket, whatever ups and downs happen, sometimes you score 100, sometimes you don't, that success or failure you can handle but this painful time was there, doing physio and coming back into cricket," said Rahul.

"I can't say that it is not in my mind. Yesterday when I came to the ground, last memory of this ground is falling down and injuring myself. Hopefully I can put that aside and I can make some better and happier memories to forget all of that."

'Confidence in Surya'

Meanwhile all-rounder Hardik Pandya will miss his second match of the World Cup as he is still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in the Bangladesh match last week.

Suryakumar Yadav played his first match of the World Cup in India's previous win over New Zealand and Rahul backs the explosive batsman to grab his chance.

"He (Pandya) does a very important role for the team, so not having him is a bit of a miss for the team and it's unfortunate what happened," said Rahul.

"The present is that he is not available for this game, so Surya will probably get his chance. We know what Surya can do, so our confidence is in Surya."

Suryakumar was run out for two in the last game after a mix-up with Virat Kohli, who went on to score a match-winning 95.

India have five wins from as many matches and Rahul attributes the team's success to being "aggressive" and getting confidence from their "spot on" preparations.

England, led by Jos Buttler, on the other hand have struggled to get their title defence in place and languish at ninth spot with four defeats in five matches.

But Rahul insists England remain a "dangerous" team despite their form in the tournament.