Indian cricket team vice captain KL Rahul addresses media at a press conference ahead of of the first T20I against Australia in Mohali.

Rahul had an abysmal Asia Cup campaign, accumulated just 132 runs in five matches at a miserable strike rate of 122.22. Since making a comeback from his knee injury in the Zimbabwe series, he does not look in good rhythm but is looking forward to the challenge against Australia in the three-T20I series starting from Tuesday.

“Obviously it’s been a few games since I’ve come back after injury and getting that time in the middle was really important. So the Asia Cup and going to Zimbabwe and getting a couple of games were really important and crucial for me. I’m feeling good. Looking forward to the challenge against the Australian team and it’ll be fun to play back at home. It’s been a while for me so I’m looking forward.” Rahul told reporters on the eve of the first T20I in Mohali.

“No one’s perfect. No one in the dressing room is perfect. Everyone’s working towards something and everyone has a certain role to do. Obviously, strike rates are taken on an overall basis. You’ll never see when that batsman has played at a certain strike rate, whether it was important for him to play at 200 strike rate or whether the team could have still won playing at 100-120 strike rate. So these are things that not everybody analyses. So when you look at it, it looks low.” Rahul said while adding that he is working on the accelerating upfront in the powerplay.

When asked about the criticism around strike-rate, Rahul said that players have been assigned specific roles by the team management to every individual. He said, “It is something that I am working on. Obviously, the roles that have been defined to each player in the last 10-12 months have been very clear and the player understands what is expected out of them and everyone’s working towards it and I’m just working towards how I can better myself as an opening batter and see how I can have the most impact for my team whenever I go out to play.”

When further asked about how he handles pressure and criticism around opening the batting for India, Rahul said, “The most important thing for a player in that dressing room is what his captain, his coach and what the other players think of him. Only we know what role is expected out of each person and everyone is trying to give their best and not every time will a player succeed. That is the kind of environment we’ve created where players are not afraid to make mistakes or fail. Mistakes happens, this is what we do, we work the hardest for this.”

“Criticism happens every time. We criticize ourselves more than any of you do. We dream of winning, we are representing the country, we want to win the World Cup that is all in our mind. When we don’t do well, it hurts us the most. It’s about what goes on in our team. We have a support staff and leader who not only appreciate when times are good but also in tough times when an individual has done well, they back us.” the Indian vice-captain added.

Along with Rahul’s batting form, India would look to do experiment with he batting combination and decide Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik can fit in the playing XI together. When asked about who between the two keepers is supposed to play, he told, “It really depends on what kind of combination we want to go with. It will always depend on firstly the surface that we’re going to play on. Secondly, the teams that we’re playing against. And yeah, these decisions are not easy. Obviously both of them are really high-quality players and they have been playing really well. Both of them to me do different roles. So for us as a team, and for the captain and coach, obviously at the leadership group, is to see what role we need on that particular day.” Rahul concluded.

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