Men’s ODI WC: Worked much harder on my fitness, wicket-keeping, says KL Rahul

One of the aspects which have garnered the attention of Indian fans during the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup has been the superb wicket-keeping work showcased by KL Rahul, who returned to the game last month following a layoff due to right thigh injury needing surgery.

One of the aspects which have garnered the attention of Indian fans during the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup has been the superb wicket-keeping work showcased by KL Rahul, who returned to the game last month following a layoff due to right thigh injury needing surgery.

An illustration of Rahul’s athleticism and agility as a wicket-keeper in the tournament came in the game against Bangladesh at Pune, where he moved swiftly to his left side and made a stunning dive to take the catch of Mehidy Hasan Miraz off Mohammed Siraj’s bowling with his left hand and roared in delight over what he had pulled off with gloves on.

Ahead of Sunday’s clash against England at the BRSABV Ekana Cricket Stadium, Rahul explained how putting in the hard yards is giving him good results as a dependable wicketkeeper in the Indian team, something which also landed him a gold medal for being the best fielder from fielding coach T Dilip post the win over Pakistan in Ahmedabad.


“During the process of getting fitter as well, I did focus a lot on wicketkeeping along with my batting. The medical team at the NCA felt like – with the kind of injury I had, the difficult part would be wicket-keeping more than the batting. The things that I’ve worked much harder on are my fitness and wicketkeeping. Then came batting so it was in that order.”

“So, I did work a lot on my wicket-keeping there and even when I’ve come back here, I’ve spent a lot of time wicket-keeping. I feel like that requires a bit more time and effort from my side. So it’s as simple as any other skill. The more you do, the harder you work on it, you have the best chance to do well.”

“I am taking wicket-keeping seriously because in India in these conditions it will be important to have your technique right, to have your glove work right and so I am trying to tick all of those boxes so I can do my best as a wicket-keeper as well,” he elaborated in the pre-match press conference.

Sunday’s match against England will also see Rahul play a game at Lucknow nearly six months after tearing a tendon in his right thigh while fielding for Lucknow Super Giants in their IPL 2023 match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 1.

When reminded of the same, Rahul was quick to say, “I am trying to forget; you are reminding me again and again.”

With emotions of that injury still fresh in mind, the right-handed batter is now seeing Sunday’s match against England as a chance to set aside the bad memories of that thigh injury and replace them with happy moments at the venue. “Yes, I am a little sad about that. But the injury that I had, it kept me out of the game for 4-5 months.”

“That was a tough time. Whoever has an injury, if you ask anyone — they undergo surgery and to come back, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of patience and you have to go through that which is not very easy.”

“In cricket, whatever ups and downs happen, sometimes you score 100, sometimes you don’t, that success or failure you can handle. But this painful time that is there, doing physio and coming back into cricket – that was tough.”

“I can’t say that it is not in my mind. Yesterday when I came to the ground, my last memory of this ground is that – falling and injuring myself. Hopefully, I can put that aside and I can make some better and happier memories to forget all of that.”

India captain Rohit Sharma had revealed that to counter outside noise, he had kept himself off social media for the last nine months. Asked about his coping strategy for tacking outside noise, Rahul said it was an aspect which he had to work a lot on apart from enhancing his wicketkeeping skills.

“I have put a lot of effort into this. I tried to address it. Outside noise for a long time, I thought it wouldn’t affect me, but in the last year or so it started affecting me. Then I realized that I would have to work on it.”

“When I got time, outside of the game, I tried to work on that side – mentally you got to get a lot more stronger, a lot more thick-skinned. So yeah, that really helped me being away from the game.”

With Rohit and Virat Kohli scoring a huge chunk of India’s runs in the tournament so far, Rahul, who scored a match-winning 97 not out in the opening win against Australia at Chennai, doesn’t see this facet as a concern.

“It is a very good thing when your senior players are making runs and are in form. That is what you expect from players like Rohit and Virat. Yes, whoever has got the chance, whoever has got the opportunity, they have contributed. I know that big scores have not been scored, hundreds have not been scored apart from Virat and Rohit.”

“But that is the challenge for the other guys. Shubman has scored 50, Shreyas has scored 50, I have been batting (well). When Jadeja got the chance in the last match, he also finished the match.”

“So, every player has a different role. They are playing their role and responsibility well. The team is winning so we we’re not really worried but whenever anyone gets a chance, I’m sure they’ll put their hands up,” concluded Rahul, who is now India’s pillar in the World Cup in front of and behind the stumps.


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