KL Rahul returned to competitive action after a gap of three months and there were obvious signs of rust when the right-handed batsman stepped out against England in the T20I series.

After indifferent form with the bat during the five-match rubber, KL Rahul notched up a determined half-century in the first ODI in Pune to bring himself back into form.

For the Karnataka batsman, it was all about battling it out on the pitch.

“As a batsman, I feel being in the middle and playing games is what keeps me in good touch,” Rahul said on the eve of the second ODI.

“Having not got as much game time as I would have liked, I mean I won’t say it did not play on my mind, but somehow or the other you have to find a way to be best prepared, be it at training or open net sessions,” he explained.

“In terms of that, I tried to prepare in the best way possible but having said that, nothing beats game time,” he added.

With Rishabh Pant back in the white ball mix and Ishan Kishan also grabbing his chance with both hands, Rahul knows that he cannot take his place for granted despite being one of the most prolific performers in the shorter formats.

“Look when you are a part of this Indian team you know that competition is going to be really, really high and you can never sit back and feel comfortable like you own a position. You will always be challenged and that’s how it is.

“Our country has got a lot of talent, you will always try to push yourself and keep training harder and working on your game. And when opportunity comes, try to grab it with both hands,” he said.

The lean patch that he encountered is part of a journey for an international cricketer, something that didn’t put him under too much stress.

“This is part of the journey and everybody goes through this. I didn’t do anything different or I wasn’t too stressed. As a player, you can get disappointed as I have been sitting on the bench for a while.

“After those three or three half months, I wanted to do well like every player in the team. If it doesn’t happen, you accept it.”

Rahul believes that one has to question own self on whether the preparation has been up to the mark or not.

“I asked myself, if I was prepared well and training hard? Was there anything which I didn’t do in terms of preparation? If I did and after that, if I don’t score runs, I can accept that.”

But the poor run in the T20 series did disappoint him.

“You do feel disappointed as you are representing your country. You want to keep performing and keep winning games for your country. You have to also accept that sometimes it won’t go your way and you have to be patient at times.

“I have been doing well and contributing in whatever roles and responsibilities thrown at me for last two and half years. I have always put the team ahead.”

As far as the technical part is concerned, Rahul said the same technique got him runs too, so he doesn’t need to question himself on it.

“When things were going right, I didn’t question my process and my passion or my commitment towards the game and I didn’t want to sit back and over-analyse three or four bad performances,

“You need to accept sometimes, I was doing most things right which were in my control. After that if you don’t score, you move on.”

‘Not surprised by Prasidh debut’

KL Rahul isn’t surprised by India’s newest pace sensation Prasidh Krishna’s smash-hit international debut as he always felt that it was about time that he would join the ranks of big names from Karnataka, who have already donned national colours.

Prasidh, who had made a name for himself with his performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Kolkata Knight Riders, took four wickets on his ODI debut against England.

“Look, quite honestly, I am not surprised with what he (Prasidh) did yesterday (Tuesday). I was always very confident that the next player that is going to come out of Karnataka, is going to be Prasidh,” said the pacer’s state team captain.

“We weren’t of the same batch, but I have watched him play a lot of junior cricket and in the nets, he is somebody, who will catch your eye,” Rahul said at the virtual press conference, ahead of the second ODI against England.

The best part according to Rahul is Prasidh’s abiity to bowl quick.

“(He is a) tall guy (who) bowls quick, gets a lot of bounce from the wicket, and something having played with him in the last couple of seasons for Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare, I realised that he is a brave boy.”

Rahul is also impressed by his game sense.

“He has a great sense of the game, it’s not just his skill but how he understands and reads the game. He is a very keen learner and he is, like I said, very brave and comes in with a lot of aggression,” Rahul said.

Rahul is confident that Prasidh will be a great asset for Indian cricket if he keeps on working hard.

“We saw in the last game, he was trying to have a word or two with the batsmen and he enjoys being in a contest and that’s is something I love, about him,” Rahul said.

“....and I am so happy to see that he is carrying on the same thing and he wasn’t overwhelmed by the place he is in, playing his first game for the country, I am sure there will be lot of nerves

“but the way he came back after the first three overs, got those crucial wickets, so these are the qualities that a player and as a team, a lot of us are impressed with, what he has done.”

For Rahul, the manner in which each newcomer has performed in this series can be attributed to consistent show in domestic cricket for years.

“I think a huge part is the IPL and the confidence that these boys come in with. And whoever has coming into the team, is not because they have performed in one season of the IPL or one season of first-class cricket but it has been 2-3 years of consistent performances and at whatever level they play, or wherever they play,” said Rahul, who captains the Punjab Kings, in the T20 league.

But obviusly having played all the top English players in IPL did help their performance, Rahul admitted.

“Obviously, you would have heard Surya (Suryakumar Yadav), Ishan (Kishan) and Krunal (Pandya), in their interviews saying that they have played against most of these guys in the IPL at some point and they know how they go about their games and IPL performances have obviously given them a lot of confidence and they have carried that confidence into playing for their country,” he noted.

Rahul also said that the team management also gives confidence to the youngsters

“And it is something also the team, the management and the environment here in the Indian team, what we try to do is to give the confidence to youngsters coming in and I feel weird calling them youngsters, because we have seen them for so many years, we have seen them perform and when they come in, we want all the players to continue to do what they are doing,” he added.

With PTI inputs

Watch KL Rahul’s full press conference below: