KL Rahul, our perfect potato, was declared as the man of the series for the five-match T20 series against New Zealand. It is for the first time that India has won a T20 series in New Zealand and that also by 5-0, which itself is a new milestone.
Rahul was quite confident today as he had to take up the role of interim captain (potato, he is) after Rohit Sharma was retired hurt. He managed the team well and it was clear from his demeanour that he is ready to take up any role that will be offered to him.
“I haven’t really thought about it(batting in the middle-order in the ODIs) yet. Travelling and winning a series 5-0 doesn’t happen often, so we’re just going to enjoy that for the next couple of days; put our feet up and relax for a little while.”
“Obviously we have the confidence, we have been doing well (in ODIs) and the recent form in the last 3-4 months has been great too. Personally and as a team, we have been performing phenomenally well. We don’t really plan much. All of us know what we need to do, all of us know what our strengths are so we try to stick to our strengths.”
“It was a special feeling, leading your country is always the second dream – the first ones, of course, to play for your country,” said Rahul, swelling with uncontainable pride. “It was unfortunate what happened to Rohit. Every day I wake up, every day I’m thrown a new responsibility. I’m very grateful and I’m loving the challenges being thrown at me. It was great to see how we responded without our main leaders – Rohit and Virat.”
“It’s not easy to get chances at this level of cricket, and you start to comprehend that after 2-3 years of international cricket, that you have to utilise your chances to the fullest. The talent and the competition in our country doesn’t warrant too many chances, and we all understand that in the team. We are aggressive on the field, but we also have smiling faces in the middle, because we want to be there, we want to be out there in a win or a loss and just enjoy the game of cricket and give it all we have.”
“We’re a young team, love spending time with each other, and there is absolutely no divide between the seniors and the juniors. We all have a common goal – to win games of cricket. We are all focused on winning the (T20) World Cup – that’s a common goal, and we’re trying to maximise our preparations for the World Cup.”
“There have been so many positives. I can go on and on about how brilliantly we have performed. It’s not like we have just walked into a game and just beaten aside easily and gotten away. We have been challenged each day and the way have always found answers in the middle and remained calm has been the biggest takeaway,” said Rahul, picking out the composure of the team in key moments as the main positive after a prolonged T20I season, in preparation for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. “Every month we are playing so much, it’s hard on the body as well, and for everyone to stay fit mentally and physically and perform like this is phenomenal. This team is a coach’s dream and a captain’s dream.”
“(About the bowling) I can’t do much from behind the stumps. They come up with their own plans, they set their own fields, and more often than not, they have executed what they wanted to do. In a T20 you’re bound to go for runs at times, but the way they’ve held their nerve, it’s amazing to see. We’ve seen Yuzi and Bumrah. They’re seniors now, but even Saini, Shardul and Washy – any responsibility they’re given, more often than not, they come through, and that’s very heartening to see. The bowlers are being fearless, not scared of being hit, and bluffing batsmen, which is very important in T20 cricket. You need to have the skill to represent your country, but the execution and the calmness have been amazing to see.”
“Kane Williamson was extremely impressive. It’s not the first time we’re seeing this, we’ve watched him in the IPL too. He’s a very versatile player and playing cricketing shots, he can still strike at 180-200 and do the damage, and that’s extremely pleasing to see. I’ve spent a lot of time with him in 2014-15 when we were both playing for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, and I spent a lot of time talking about batting, and I felt that our batting style was fairly similar. It’s a treat to watch him bat, but we don’t want to be treated to his innings in the ODIs,”
“I hope so. It’s a confidence booster for me that the coaches, the captain and the support staff believe in me, and that they see me fit for any situation. That gives me confidence as a player. It’s important to be in the best possible mindset to deliver for the team.”
India will be starting the 3-match ODI series against New Zealand from 11th of February.