Auckland, Jan 24 (IANS) KL Rahul is enjoying his new role as India’s wicketkeeper batsman, he said after helping his side register a six-wicket victory over New Zealand in the first T20I here on Friday.
“I’m quite honestly loving it. At the international stage, it might seem very new and it might seem like I’ve never kept. (But) I’ve kept for my IPL franchise for the last 3-4 years, and I’ve kept for my first-class team as and when there is an opening. I’ve still stayed in touch with wicketkeeping,” Rahul said at the post match press conference.
Rahul smashed 56 off 27 balls as his 99-run stand with skipper Virat Kohli set up India’s remarkable chase after New Zealand posted 203/5 in the opener.
“I enjoy staying behind the stumps and it also gives me a great idea about how the pitch is playing, and I can pass on that message to the bowlers and the captain with field-sets and everything. As a keeper, that’s also your responsibility to stay active and pass the message on to your captain as to what lengths are better and what I feel we can do better.”
“It is extra work but staying behind the stumps also helps batting,” said Rahul, who is in the form of his life.
“As a batsman as well, after keeping for 20 overs, especially you get a fair idea on what are the good shots on this kind of wicket and so I’m enjoying the responsibility and so far so good for me.”
Besides Rahul, Shreyas Iyer bludgeoned 58 off 29 balls.
“It was a fantastic finish. We have seen for a while that in crunch situations we have lacked someone who can to take the team through and win. But the way Shreyas, Shivam (Dube) and even Manish (Pandey) started striking the ball from the moment they went in. When you’re chasing over 200, you need a boundary in every over.
“It was good to see that whoever was walking out was doing so with the intent to do that. And the execution was very impressive today. That is very heartening to see. And the way Shreyas finished it off, the way he celebrated very calmly after reaching his half-century, and he finished the game and then celebrated.
“The responsibility of being an IPL captain, he has understood how to finish the games. He showed that responsibility in the last ODI too and here too. Those are great signs for us,” said Rahul.
Rahul added that India’s winning start to the New Zealand tour should hold them in good stead going ahead.
India play five T20s, three ODIs and two Tests.
“As a bowling unit, we have a fair idea of what lines and lengths we have to bowl. Change of pace will be very important. As a batting unit, the dimensions and shape of the ground will be a key point for us. To understand the areas to target – mostly that’s it.
“It’s our first game so, obviously we’ll get better with the lengths we bowl as a bowling unit and fielding also, it’s a differently-shaped ground. We are not used to grounds like this, so it’s a challenge for the boys,” he added.