India batter KL Rahul admitted that he was a bit nervous ahead of his comeback game against Pakistan but grew in confidence once he spent some time in the middle before going on to complete a memorable hundred.
In a rain-marred Asia Cup match, Rahul struck an unbeaten 111 and then kept wickets for the entire duration in his first match for India since March.
“I am happy with how the last two games have gone. I was a little nervous initially but as I started facing a few balls I felt alright,” said Rahul in the post-match press conference on Tuesday night after India’s 41-run win over Sri Lanka.
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Rahul said his strong preparations during the rehabilitation period at the NCA helped him prepare for his return.
“I was thinking that I will be in the playing 11 and that’s how I prepared. I was confident that I can still go there and do the job,” said Rahul.
The 31-year-old said he was given a clear idea about his role in the team as a middle-order wicket-keeper batter. “The team management has also told me that this will be my role – batting in the middle-order and keeping wickets,” said Rahul.
In that context, Rahul said he worked on his wicketkeeping during his time at the NCA.
“I have been keeping wickets for the last couple of years. So, it is not new to me. I think I started keeping in 2019 when Rishabh (Pant) got concussed against Australia.
“During my time at the NCA, I have worked on my keeping with the coaches there. Hopefully, I can do both the roles well,” he added.
Rahul patted Kuldeep Yadav, India’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs this year, for upgrading his skills and coming back as a better bowler.
“I am really enjoying watching him bowling and I can see that he has developed a few new tricks that are giving some results to him.
“We keep talking between the overs about the strategy to be adopted to get a batsman out or how to keep a set batsman away from the strike. His rhythm has also been good in the last two matches,” said Rahul.
Dunith Wellalage produced a wonderful solo effort for Sri Lanka on Tuesday, taking five wickets and scoring an unbeaten 42 off 46 balls to stretch India.
Rahul rated him the most dangerous Sri Lankan bowler on that day.
“He got five wickets and got the job done for his team. He looked the most dangerous bowler from the Sri Lankan attack, Obviously, Asalanka also picked up a few wickets later on,” said Rahul.