KL Rahul said on Thursday that the team hasn’t forgotten what he has done over two years, despite his recent lengthy absence away from international cricket and that he thrives in such an environment.

Ahead of India’s first One Day International against Zimbabwe scheduled to be held in Harare on Thursday, captain Rahul addressed a press conference talking about his return, his plans for the team in the upcoming series and living up to the benchmark of other successful Indian captains.

India tour of Zimbabwe: KL Rahul and Co start as favourites against upbeat hosts

The opener who had been in and out of the side, firstly due to a sports hernia surgery and then Covid-19, missed out on India’s Tour to England and then West Indies. However, he will be back in action in the upcoming three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe and will lead the side with Shikhar Dhawan as his deputy.

Although the 30-year-old has not played competitive cricket since the Indian Premier League, Rahul remains confident of his role in the team on his return and seems to be secure with regard to the backing the team management has given him.

“You might be out for two months but they haven’t forgotten what you have done for the team and the country in the last two-three years. Players actually thrive in such an environment,” the Indian captain said in the press conference.

“It is this kind of environment that can help a player transform from being a good player to a great player, playing a lot more match-winning innings for his team.”

He added: “It is very important for a player to get the backing of selectors, coach and captain. It gives you so much confidence that your mindset is clear and you can focus on the things that are necessary. It becomes easy for player that your support group is backing you.”

Since Virat Kohli’s time as all-format captain came to a close, the Indian team has been led by six other captains. While Rohit Sharma, who took over as full-time captain, has a successful record so far, Rahul believes that during his short tenure as leader, he has tried to be unique and let others in the team maintain their own individuality.

“I can’t go out there and be someone else. Then I won’t be fair to myself, to the team, or to the game. I try and be myself and let the other players be themselves as they want,” Rahul said when asked if he had tried to follow the footsteps of MS Dhoni.

“I can’t even compare myself with these guys (MSD), their numbers and achievement are far greater in terms of what they have done for the country, and I don’t think any name could be taken in the same breath,” he said.

“... and this is my second series as captain, and obviously, I have played under him and learnt a lot from him as a player. As you have been playing for so many years, you will pick some good qualities from these guys.”

While Kuldeep Yadav and Deepak Chahar are making comebacks after injuries and incidentally, training alongside Rahul at NCA, the likes of Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan and Mohammed Siraj have also been part of the team managements ODI plans for the last six months. As a result, choosing the playing eleven will be the challenge for Rahul.

He hinted at the possibility of adding the returning players into the mix and managing the workload of the bowlers who have been playing on a trot since IPL.

“It will be (challenging) for any leader as to how good you are in managing your players and bringing the best out of them. Everybody is in a different place in their careers, and few of us have come back from injuries, few have played a lot of cricket and how do you manage their bodies and how do you manage mindset and nervousness of guys who are coming after a long break, and those are challenges as a leader.”

“Avesh, Siraj and Prasidh have been playing continuously since the start of IPL. It is about little bit of managing their bodies and little bit of strategies and sit and speak with them,” said Rahul.

You can watch KL Rahul’s press conference here.

Quotes courtesy: PTI.