The maturity and calmness in 21-year-old K.L Rahul’s voice comes as a surprise. Teammates say the youngster, who scored an unbeaten 93 to help India beat Pakistan in the final of the U- 23 ACC Emerging Teams Cup tournament in Singapore on Sunday, remained pretty composed even after the victory over the arch-rivals, and there was no over-the-top celebration that has become the calling card of the country’s young generation.
In that sense, certainly, Rahul seems to be on course to follow in the footsteps of his namesake and one of India’s greatest batsmen, Rahul Dravid.
Speaking to Mail Today, Rahul said while he would definitely love to emulate Dravid, he still has a long way to go before he can be even half as good.
“People have often compared me to Dravid and that gives me immense confidence. But while I would love to play like him, having watched video footage of my batting, I feel that I still have a long way to go before I can be even half as good as he is,” he said.
“I have had discussions on my batting with him and he is always willing to help all of us. I have often spoken to him about how one can build a long innings and things like that. You can actually learn so much by just listening to him talk about the game.” When questioned about his calm nature and if that was something he had tried to copy from Dravid, Rahul, who also hails from Karnataka, said credit for that should go to his parents.
“While I was obviously very happy to have helped my team beat Pakistan in the final, cramps had got the better of me and I didn’t want to aggravate it by celebrating in a flashy manner. As for the otherwise calm nature, I think my parents instilled these things in me and I am indebted to them for teaching me the value of staying grounded,” he said.
Even in the glory of winning the tournament, there is a sense of relief that Rahul has finally got a monkey off his back. In the 2010 Under-19 World Cup semifinal against Pakistan, Rahul had been dismissed for a duck leading to India’s elimination, a fact that had haunted him till Sunday.
“It was a pain that I had lived with. It was a big match, in 2010, and the fact that I got out for a duck wasn’t something that I had taken in a sporting manner. While generally you tend to forget these things with the passage of time, the memory stuck on with me. And when I got the opportunity on Sunday, I wanted to make it count.
“In fact, we were expecting a tougher fight from Pakistan. Almost the whole team had thought of being part of this dream final, where we would win a nail-biting encounter in the final over, but Pakistan didn’t really pose a very big challenge to us,” he said.
The upcoming domestic season will be crucial for Rahul to make the leap to the big stage, but he doesn’t want to set too many targets.
“I don’t want to think too far ahead and set too many goals. It will definitely be an important season and I want to do well every time that I go out in the middle, rather than looking to achieve a fixed target,” he signed off.