Cardiff: KL Rahul, who smashed a match-winning ton in the first T20I in Manchester against England, has lauded wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal for stepping up to fill the void left by pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah sustained an injury during the first T20I against Ireland which ruled him out of the ongoing series against England.
"I don’t think it is just England (who have been found wanting against spin),” he said ahead of the second T20I in Cardiff. “With the kind of skill that Kuldeep has, it is always going to be hard for a team who doesn’t play spin a lot.
"What Kuldeep did (in Manchester) was special… getting a fifer in T20I is not easy. You can be bowling well but it the end you have nothing to show for it. But he kept at it. We are very confident of playing two wrist-spinners and do most of the damage for us. We are missing Jasprit Bumrah up the order but the way our two wrist-spinners are bowling, I think they are going to be dangerous right through the course of the tour."
Rahul also that the win in Manchester was big confidence booster for the team as it has set the tone for the rest of the series.
"Yes, we are high on confidence,” he said. “Our preparations have been very good. We came here a week before the series got underway. We went to Ireland and played couple of T20Is and we did well there as well.
"We got exactly what we wanted from those two games — as team and as individuals. As a team we are really enjoying ourselves here in the UK. The way we started has been excellent and hopefully we can continue the same momentum going into the other games."
Talking about his own form, Rahul expressed his happiness after finally being able to convert a fifty into a hundred — something which he hadn’t able to do in recent times. However, now that he has finally managed to get the monkey off his shoulders, Rahul is hopeful of carrying the momentum forward.
"I didn’t know if I was in form or out-of-form,” he said. “I kept getting the fifties and was also batting well but wasn’t able to cross the three figure mark. It was quite frustrating for me. Also, being in and out of the team because of injuries and sickness kept playing on my mind.
"I realised somewhere down the line that getting 50s was at least better than getting dismissed in single digits. I wanted this hundred very badly and I was happy that it came here in England. Hopefully I can carry that confidence forward."
With Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in the playing XI, Rahul hasn’t been able to bat at his preferred opening slot. However, his hundred at Manchester was scored batting at number three and he insists that he is happy to slot in at any position the team prefers.
"I love to bat at the top of the order,” he said. “One and two is what I am most comfortable at. I got a chance to bat early (in first T20I) despite batting at number three as Shikhar (Dhawan) got out early. It felt like I was opening the batting and it gives me a chance to get my eye in. Whatever chances I get I have to make the most of it. I felt happy that I got a chance to bat up the order."