Dubai: The absence of Rohit Sharma in the white ball series against Australia, which begins with a One-day International in Sydney in the early hours of Friday, is going to put the scanner on KL Rahul like never before. A stand-in vice-captain, wicketkeeper and now a key batsman - it’s a triple role of sorts but the in-form graceful batsman is up for the challenge.
“I did get a little bit of a feeler with the IPL. I had to play similar roles there as well,” Rahul said of the triple responsibility at a media interaction on Wednesday. “It was challenging and it was new, but I think I got used to it and I started enjoying it. And hopefully it will continue the same way here.’’
An outstanding season with the bat in the recently concluded IPL, where he scored 670 runs to win the Orange Cup and captained Kings XI Punjab, must have played it’s part in boosting the confidence of the man who has seen a 360 degrees turnaround in his cricketing fortunes since his last departure - shrouded in disgrace - from Australia. Both he and Hardik Pandya were suspended midway by the caretaker regime in the Indian cricket board during the tour of Down Under in early 2019 for making ‘‘inappropriate’’ remarks on women in a TV chat show and were sent back to India.
However, that was then - for Rahul has certainly emerged as a go-to man for India in virtually all formats now - and he gave enough indication that he was game to multi-task and keep wickets for India in the next three World Cups.
“Nobody can fill the place of MS Dhoni. He has obviously shown us the way on the wicketkeeper-batsman’s role - how it should be done and obviously we have learnt a lot from MS Dhoni,” said Rahul.
He has been in and out of Men in Blue’s 50-over side, save for the past one year, and is happy that he is in a situation where he has been in good form as far as white-ball cricket is concerned.
“I have never got a long run like this. So yeah, it feels good that I am contributing to team’s win and playing my role pretty well. Happy that I can put up consistent performances.”
Rahul said he has forgotten that during the last ODI series in New Zealand, he actually got a hundred. ‘‘I have actually forgotten the last innings I played and scored a hundred in New Zealand (century in Mount Mangnui in February),” he said.
“It’s a fresh start for everybody and like I said, its important for us as a team to start well and enjoy being out there in the middle.”
Catch the match
First One-day International
India vs Australia
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
Start: 7.40 am (Day-Night)