In an interview to India Today, KL Rahul revealed the change in his mindset after the two week suspension which was imposed by the BCCI on him and Hardik Pandya for their comments on a television show earlier in 2019.
Although both Rahul and Pandya were sent home from the tour to Australia, the Committee of Administrators reconsidered the punishment and lifted their suspensions two weeks later and both were cleared to play. Upon his return, Rahul showed a rejuvenation in form, scoring 572 runs from 13 ODI innings, including a hundred against Sri Lanka in the 2019 World Cup, and 356 runs from nine matches in T20Is in 2019. Before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped cricket all around the world, Rahul had done well this year as well, scoring 350 runs from six ODI innings and 323 runs from seven innings in T20Is.
Rahul said, “A lot of credit for my consistent performance goes to how differently I started thinking after 2019. With this suspension and with all that happened, I was tempted or I was in a way wanted to be selfish and play for myself, and I failed. So, I told myself I need to go out and do what the team wants me to do. We all know our careers are not too long and I realised after 2019 that I probably have a good 12 or 11 years left in me and I need to dedicate all my time and energy towards becoming a player and team man. That mind-shift really helped and took a lot of pressure off me when I started focusing on wanting to do better for the team and be a part of champion teams and make a difference in the game.”
After Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of the 2019 World Cup due to a fractured thumb which he suffered in their 2nd game against Australia, Rahul came into the XI and has been doing a commendable job as India’s opener ever since. After his inclusion in the XI in the World Cup, he and Rohit stitched India’s highest opening partnership in the World Cup when they added 189 against Sri Lanka in their final league match. This, just days after the pair had put on 180 against Bangladesh. Rahul has showed so much promise at the top of the order that his opening partner and Indian vice captain Rohit Sharma has backed him to be India’s first choice opening batsman.
Expressing gratitude to his opening partner’s opinion, Rahul said, “Humbled by Rohit’s words (that KL Rahul is the first choice and then it’s decided between me and Dhawan in T20Is for opening slot). I have been a huge fan of his batting and I have played with him for a few years now. He is someone who is in the team, how do I say, like some cricketers get dumbstruck after watching Sachin Tendulkar, they don’t know what to say. When I am with Rohit off the field, I am still not been able to get through. He is someone in the team who has given me the sense that he has a lot of faith in me and as a senior player, I have seen that he has backed me and stood by by me on a lot of instances. When senior players feel like there is a guy who can take responsibility, a player who has not played consistently for the country, it gives a lot of confidence.”