Competition for opening slot good for India: KL Rahul

Bangalore, June 23 (IANS) India Test opener KL Rahul, who missed the one-off Test against Bangladesh due to dengue, on Tuesday said the competition for the opener’s slot with Shikhar Dhawan is a healthy sign for the country’s cricket.

After a poor start to his international career in Melbourne against Australia where he was dismissed for 3 and 1 on his Test debut, Rahul bounced back with a century (110) in his second Test at Sydney at the start of the year.

“Shikhar has done well in the last couple of years. I took his spot and he has got it back. I am really happy for him as he batted well. He has been doing well in all formats, and even in Australia I felt he was batting well. We would want competition like that,” Rahul was quoted as saying by espncricinfo.

“Even if he would not have got those runs in Bangladesh, he was always going to be there as he has done so well for the country. We have a good relationship and we play for the same Indian Premier League (IPL) team (Sunrisers Hyderabad). So we talk a lot about batting and he has always helped me.”

Rahul has recovered from his illness now and is back to training at the National Cricket Academy in his home city of Bangalore. He said the main focus for him ahead of the next season is to get fitter and stronger.

“I’ll take it one match at a time and don’t want to think too far ahead and put pressure on myself. Definitely, it is a good opportunity as all the (upcoming) Test matches are in India or the subcontinent where the conditions are batting friendly.

“It will be challenging because we will play good international sides. I have used this time away to work on my skills where I was lacking and looking to get better and do well in the Test matches coming ahead,” the 23-year-old said.

The Karnataka right-hander admitted he felt “100 kgs lighter” after the Sydney ton, having played a couple of poor shots that led to his dismissals on debut.

“It is surprising that Melbourne keeps popping up in my head more often than Sydney. I keep watching that innings (in Sydney) — 270 odd balls — and feel like I did something really well. I stuck to my plan and did not do anything fancy and did not play any rash strokes.”

Over the next few weeks, Rahul intends to simply find the groove in his batting again.

“As a player, you just have to tell yourself that there are better things to come. Keep yourself motivated and look to the next season and score more runs,” Rahul concluded.

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