'After the first 10 overs, the check we had in the middle, me and Rohit (Sharma) and then me and Virat (Kohli), 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,' said KL Rahul after India defeated West Indies at the ICC World Cup 2019
Manchester: India’s opening batsman KL Rahul said the pitch at Old Trafford was not easy for batsmen and hence they did not think of posting a 300-plus score and what they achieved in the end (268) was very good against West Indies in their ICC World Cup 2019 clash on Thursday (June 27).
India thrashed the Windies by 125 runs to maintain their unbeaten record in the 10-team tournament. After the match, Rahul spoke to the media. Her is the full text of the post-match press conference.
Question: KL, how better or bad was this pitch compared to the last one in Southampton, considering here also run making was not that easy? So comparing the two pitches?
KL Rahul: Again, I think it was pretty similar to Southampton. Southampton was overall slow, but here it was two-paced — few bounces were going through. So, I think that's why getting runs was harder for the new batsmen. Batsmen had a better chance of rotating the strike or getting the boundary options, which unfortunately didn't happen, set batsmen kept getting out. So it became difficult. But I think on wickets like this, 260, 270 still becomes a good score.
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Q: Rahul, when the innings ended, the experts seemed divided on whether this was a good enough score for India to defend. What was the feeling in the dressing room?
Rahul: After the first 10 overs, the check we had in the middle, me and Rohit (Sharma) and then me and Virat (Kohli), 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.
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.
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Q: In the first 10 overs through this tournament we've seen openers are taking their time and playing the waiting game. Being an opener yourself your thoughts on that and why is that sort of an approach that we're seeing rather than teams going all out attack in the first 10?
Rahul: Look, in One Day Internationals over the years I think we have seen it and you guys have seen that kind of approach because it's bilateral series and it's a different ballgame and this is a World Cup — the pressure is really high.
So as a batsman you can't really go out there and play that kind of innings with that kind of freedom fully. But, I mean, with the kind of batting we have, with the kind of firepower we have in the back end, we know that initially we can take a little bit of time and the important thing, the plan is for the top three or top four, one of us to — even if we take them we are the kind of players where we can make up later.
So we have that kind of confidence in the batting unit. So we don't mind taking that little extra time. And with conditions being — today was a slow wicket. If we go to the next game, there might be a bit of same movement, might be overcast.
So we need to be flexible in our heads. We can't always say that one-day cricket, flat wicket doesn't mean we get 360, 370. We need to be flexible.
Q: It's been three matches since you went back to the top of the order. You got starts on three occasions. How do you assess the way it has gone, the fact that you're not kicked down to a sort of big score? How do you look at that?
Rahul: 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.
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.
Q: Just taking forward that same question, can you talk about the two strokes that you played, one against Afghanistan, there was three together when you got out today? Like, you seem to be before that in a very good headspace, and then just that you've committed mistake. What goes through your mind? Talk about why did you pick those two strokes.
Rahul: That is what is the most difficult thing about batting, isn't it? One, you might look like you're not in any trouble for 100 balls, 120 balls or 50, 60 balls, and then sometimes you end up making a mistake.
Like, Afghanistan was — I wouldn't say it was a bad shot. It was a shot I play all the time. And more often than not I hit it for four, so I get it away. But unfortunately I didn't execute it. But the planning and the timing of that shot maybe was questionable because I needed to stitch up a partnership with Virat.
And, like I said, again, bat 30, 30-odd overs and then look to accelerate. So these are the things that maybe I've done wrong in the few games.
Q: And today?
Rahul: Today, again, look, I mean, like I said, one ball, I mean, gets you sometimes. And today, a good bowler — as a bowler, you're allowed to bowl good. As a batsman, it disappoints you but then again you know bowlers are allowed to bowl good bowls. And you do make mistakes.
And I can't sit back and break my head about it. I just go on and try to start fresh in Birmingham and try to get a big one.
Q: You play England on Sunday (June 30). Are you surprised at how England have struggled? And the fact that if you win you almost knock them out of the tournament provide extra motivation?
Rahul: Look, 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. 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.
Q: Over the last two years you waited for an opportunity at the top. Now you are getting in but you started the tournament in the middle of the batting order. Is it easy to come into a tournament thinking, okay, I'll be batting in the middle and then suddenly going up especially, when you've been waiting for that opportunity for a long time? How has that mindset changed, or what do you think?
Rahul: I mean, at this level I think you need to be ready for anything and when you're playing for your country, you need to really have an open mind and it's not just — it's not that it just happened. I know that Shikhar (Dhawan) getting injured was unfortunate. And I had to go to the top of the order.
But, not that I never prepared for opening the batting. In my head, the last one or two years I have been preparing for whatever might be my role, I need to be ready and I need to prepare in that way. So I prepared — I had to prepare hard for number four because that's not where I batted all my life. I did that. And now to come back to opening the batting again, it's just a bit more comfortable and easier for me because I've batted it all my life.
So I won't say it's easier or hard; we need to be ready and it's the need of the game and whatever the team wants, you need to be able to do it.
Q: Virat seems to be back in a different zone. Having seen him from the other end, what do you think he's doing which others are unable to do?
Rahul: Look, I think nothing — I don't think he's doing anything different. He's been doing the same thing for however long I can remember since the time he started playing cricket, this is what he's been doing, performing consistently, and no matter what condition, what wicket condition, who the bowlers are, he always finds a way to get runs, always finds a way to put the bowlers under pressure.
And batting with him just makes it a bit more easier because the focus is on him and you can get away with some boundaries. And he's been batting well and, like I said, I don't think it's just this tournament. I mean, he just kept batting well, whenever you see IPL or Test cricket or T20 cricket or One Day International, he just keeps coming back and keeps putting those performances again and again.
And that's what is great to see and inspiring for us and the team to learn from him and probably understand and have the same kind of passion and go out every game wanting to do well for the country.
Q: You talked about the batting firepower in the middle order. But is it a concern at all that unless Kohli, Virat or Rohit score bigger runs you'll probably struggle to get past 300?
Rahul: We can't always go in thinking it's a 300 wicket. 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.
Last Updated 12:31 PM IST