KL Rahul takes "challenging" Eden wicket as preparation for upcoming away sojourns

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KL Rahul takes "challenging" Eden wicket as preparation for upcoming away sojourns

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SportsCafe Desk


After a thrilling draw against Sri Lanka on a green wicket, KL Rahul conceded that the team was preparing for the challenges that lay ahead on foreign soil in the next two years. Rahul has also downplayed Sri Lanka's time-wasting tactics in the final session, stating that it was fair on their part.

The Eden Gardens strip in Kolkata, from time immemorial, has always been a heaven for the spinners – be it Harbhajan Singh’s hat-trick or Sachin Tendulkar’s magic with the ball or Shane Warne’s occasion burst. However, since it was relaid in 2016 by the Sourav Ganguly-led administration, the surface wore an uncharacteristic look and Kolkata Knight Riders’ pacers took  heavy benefit of it in the last IPL. The wicket that was prepared for the just-concluded Test also wore a green look and combined with the inclement weather, it helped the Indian team get an idea of what to expect in the forthcoming away tours. And after the end of the Test, Rahul admitted the same and stated that the team was preparing for the away-from-home series in the next couple of years. 

"It is obviously clear that we're preparing for the next two years that we're going to travel abroad and play overseas and we're going to find wickets like this and it is going to be challenging for all of us," Rahul said in the post-match press conference, reported PTI.

"All the days that cricket's been played on this wicket, there's been something for the fast bowlers. I think, towards the end of yesterday and today, the cracks opened up a little bit more. That's why there was a lot more seam movement - the first couple of days there was a lot of swing because of the conditions and because of the dampness in the wicket."

The Karnataka opener believes that the openers can take the sting out of the early seam movement in testing conditions - the kind of challenges that India is likely to face in South Africa and England next year. 

"As an opening batsman, an innings like this gives a lot of confidence, and the kind of partnership that me and Shikhar [Dhawan] put up was very, very satisfying, because if, as opening batsmen, we can negate this seam movement with the new ball then it becomes a lot easier for the batsmen coming down the order. That's the responsibility of an opening batsman, wherever you play, for whatever team you play."

The dramatic third session of the day also saw Lankan wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella resorting to time-wasting tactics as he had stopped Mohammed Shami after he had started his run up and then gestured by waving his hand at him to start over. It was a clever move as he wanted to waste as much time as he could and was waiting for the bad light taking over. It raised questions about Sri Lanka’s gamesmanship, but Rahul was quick to downplay that by stating that they would have done the same thing had they been put in that type of situation.

“It’s a tricky thing. If we were in a situation like that, I am sure we’d have done the same thing. That’s how the game is played, nobody wants to lose the game. These tricks of the trade are played by every team. There’s nothing unfair about it. Obviously, as a team trying to win the game we want to bowl as many overs as we can, but that’s how it is played. You can’t really complain about that,” explained Rahul. 

While the first two days of the match were marred by the rain, bad light forced early stumps on the last three. But the crowd got their money’s worth on the last day as Virat Kohli hit his 50th international century before the bowlers took India to the brink of victory, only to be denied by fading light, yet again. And Rahul felt that if India had five or six overs more, the match could have been theirs.

“On a wicket like that, it’d have been great if we got five days of cricket. We enjoyed playing on a wicket that was challenging and these are the kind of matches you look forward to. Maybe if we had five or six more overs, we could’ve made a match out of it. But it’s a good experience for all of us. I don’t think personally I’ve played a game like this, which is shortened and rain-curtailed but goes down to the wire."

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