Indian opener KL Rahul has come forward and stated that he is back to being good friends again with Hardik Pandya after the duo's controversial suspension months ahead of the World Cup. Rahul also expressed his disappointment over India's top-order collapse in the semi-final against the Kiwis.
From finding himself on the sidelines after being banned indefinitely prior to the World Cup, to actually featuring in every single match in the competition, life has come full circle for KL Rahul, whose focus will now solely be on the Test series against West Indies. Not long ago, the Karnataka opener was being ripped apart by the media for his controversial comments on the show "Koffee with Karan", but soon after serving his ban, the 27-year-old put everything behind him to become a consistent performer for his country at the World Cup.
Recalling the infamous incident, Rahul has revealed that the initial days of the suspension were tough on both himself and all-rounder Hardik Pandya but then said that the duo came to terms with it and became good friends yet again as time passed by.
"It was hard for both of us. We did speak to each other about it while this whole process was on (investigation). He was with his family and friends and I was with my people. We switched off from the outside world for those few weeks," Rahul told TOI.
"We learnt from the situation, accepted it, and now we are back to being good friends. We literally spend 300 days together... travelling and playing cricket. Hardik is still a good friend and we enjoy each other’s company," he added.
After starting the World Cup at the No.4 position, Rahul was moved back to his much-favoured opening slot due to the injury to Shikhar Dhawan. The opener has revealed that he had a lot of nerves heading into the game against Pakistan while adding that he had to modify his game plan to compliment his partner Rohit Sharma, who was in sublime touch.
"The whole game plan had to change for me a little bit, but opening the batting is what I have done all my life. The first game that I got to open was India vs Pakistan, so it is bound to affect the nerves and you will be under pressure.
"He (Rohit) was already in tremendous form, so I had to make sure that I play my part. It wasn’t unnerving, but yes, my game plan had to be changed as I was prepared to bat at No. 4 for a month. I had to understand batting at a different position. It was challenging, but I was happy with whatever my contributions were in the WC," Rahul said.
Post India's exit at the hands of the Kiwis in the semi-final, several people, including captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri have loathed about the "30 minutes" which cost India the match, as their top-order was blown away, reducing them to 5/3. Recalling the situation, the Indian opener expressed his disappointment over the collapse, stating that he would like to turn back the clock and make the score 5/0 if he had the chance.
"It’s not a pleasant feeling. I don’t want to go back, but if I could rewind, I would want to go back and make India 5 for no loss. My partnership with Rohit was good; we were giving the team a good start, so it was very disappointing that we couldn’t do it in that game," he said.
"What’s more disappointing is that Rohit was in the form of his life and sometimes I steadied the team, too. We had a great partnership going and the other players would come in and play their roles, too. It’s important for an opener to play those initial overs well so the middle order batsmen can capitalise and make sure we are on the winning side. It’s still disappointing when I look back and think about 5/3." he added.
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