Ahead of the first T20 International against Australia, India vice-captain KL Rahul said the batters in the team are working on improving their strike-rates with the T20 World Cup around the corner.

India will face Australia in a three-match T20I series, starting on Tuesday in Mohali. After a disappointing Asia Cup campaign that saw them miss out on qualifying for the final, India will aim to bounce back and deliver a strong performance against the reigning world champions in the shortest format.

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Reflecting on the strike-rate issue that has troubled India for quite some time now, especially while batting first, Rahul said it’s important to consider different match situations while analysing players’ performances.

“It is something that every player works towards (strike-rate). No one is perfect. Everyone is working towards something,” said Rahul during a media interaction on Monday.

“Strike-rates are taken on an overall basis. You never see that a batter has played at a certain strike-rate (throughout). Whether it was important for him to play at a strike-rate of 200 or whether the team could have still won with the batter playing at 100 or 120, these things are not everybody analyses. So when you look at (overall), it looks slow.”

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The 30-year-old right-hander, who has received his fair share of criticism for taking too long to settle in during T20s, said his goal is to do the job for the team at the top of the order.

“It is something I am working on. Obviously, the goals have been defined to each player in the last 10-12 months. Everyone has a clear understanding as to what is expected out of him. I am just working towards how can I better myself as an opening batter and see how I can have the most impact. Team environment has allowed players to learn from their mistakes,” he said.

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Rahul also praised the team environment created by captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid.

“The most important thing for the player in the room is what captain and coach and teammates think of him and we know what is expected out of each person, everyone is trying to give best and not every time a player will succeed,” he said.

“We have created an environment where players are not afraid to fail or not afraid to make mistakes. Even if mistakes happen this is what we do. We work the hardest for this. Everybody can criticise, but we criticise ourselves more than any of you do. For us, this is what we have dreamt of doing. We are representing our country. We want to win games, we want to win the World Cup, all of that is on our mind. And when we don’t do well, it hurts us the most.”

Speaking specifically about setting a target, Rahul said, “When you are batting first, you want to give yourself three or four balls to understand how the pitch is behaving. And then try and see how you can put bowlers under pressure, how you can utilise the powerplay, get your teams off to a good start.”

India will play three T20Is against South Africa after the Australia series and these six matches will be crucial as the team prepares for the T20 World Cup. Rahul believes the Indian team is yet to play to its full potential and they will get there soon.

“Skill wise our performance was only 80-85 percent. We are still not very good in terms of batting or excellent in bowling or fielding. There are a few things we need to fix. You can only win big events if all these are done well and the team comes together to win a championship,” said Rahul.

“What happened in Asia Cup and 2021 World Cup, we made different mistakes in those two events. We are very clear about what went wrong and we are trying to learn from it.”

Rahul also said it was important for him to spend some time in the middle during the Zimbabwe series and Asia Cup, coming back from a break.

Quotes courtesy PTI and ESPNCricinfo

You can watch the full press conference here.