Ahead of the first Test against South Africa, KL Rahul has revealed that before a year ago, he had never thought to represent India again in the longest format of the game until things changed quickly. Rahul has been appointed as the stand-in vice-captain for the Test series against South Africa.
India are scheduled to tour South Africa for three Tests and as many ODIs, which will begin on December 26, with the first Test in Centurion. The BCCI had announced an 18-member Test squad for the South Africa series, and elevated Rohit Sharma as vice-captain in the longest format of the game. Team India’s white-ball captain was expected to begin his vice-captaincy stint in Test cricket during the three-match red-ball series against the Proteas.
Incidentally, the Indian opening batsman sustained a hamstring injury ahead of the South Africa tour, and was eventually ruled out from the three-match Test series against the Proteas. Later, the BCCI named KL Rahul as stand-in vice-captain for the red-ball series against South Africa. Rahul made his Test debut for India in 2014, and has so far scored 2321 runs at an average of 35.16 with six centuries and 12 half-centuries from 40 matches.
Rahul was dropped from India playing XI during the Australia tour in 2018, but the right-hander returned to the squad and has been a mainstay in the longest format for the Virat Kohli-led side. Meanwhile, Rahul revealed that he never thought to wear the whites again for India until things changed quickly for him in the longest format of the game. The right-hand batsman also reckoned that it is a big privilege for him to take up the vice-captaincy role of Team India in Test cricket.
“Look obviously 6-7 months ago or a year ago I never thought I’d get to play Test cricket again, but yeah things have turned around quite quickly and I’m very very happy, grateful, and very honoured that such a huge responsibility is been given to me. I’m now looking forward to giving my best like I always do. I’ll try and help the team achieve more success” Rahul said in a video shared by the BCCI.
"I have bitter-sweet memories from Boxing Day. I debuted on a Boxing Day Test in Australia, but that did not go well. I lost my position again. I felt that's the end for me. I think I have become more balanced in my approach to the game. I have changed a lot from how I used to play in 2014 when I made my debut and in 2018," he further said.
Reflecting on South Africa pitches and the pace attack of the Proteas, Rahul stated that the Indian batsmen have to be patient, and should be careful about the shot selection.
"South African pitches have a spongy bounce.. especially here in Centurion. You have got to be a lot more patient. We all know what kind of bowling attack South Africa have. It's a country where you really enjoy batting once you get used to the pace and bounce. For openers, those first 30-35 overs with the new ball will be tested. We need to be patient and leave balls outside off stump, and know which balls to score against," he added.