Colombo: He struck a fluent century to steady India from early jitters against Sri Lanka in the second cricket Test here but rookie batsman Lokesh Rahul has mixed feelings, saying that he should have scored more runs to take his side to even a better position.
23-year Rahul expressed his satisfaction at getting a second Test hundred on the opening day but at the same time said he was disappointed at not having scored more than the 108 runs he did as India finished at 319/6 at stumps.
"I did not get runs in the first Test (in Galle), so to come here and play like the way I did was very satisfying for me individually," Rahul said after the day's play.
"But honestly I felt I should have done a lot better and I am feeling a little disappointed. Generally after tea to end of the day is the time when you get more runs when you are set. And I felt I should have been there and could have got more runs for my team. But again it is a big learning for me and I will go back and work on a few things, and hopefully will not do the mistakes again," he said.
Rahul scored his second Test hundred following his maiden century in Sydney earlier this year, and his innings helped India steady on after losing two early wickets in the morning session. Later on, he helped the score past the 200-run mark, putting on 164 runs with skipper Virat Kohli (78). He was dismissed while trying a botched pull shot soon after his hundred.
"It is very disappointing that the shot you love to play the most gets you out a lot. For me it's a good learning. When I am playing international cricket, playing different speeds and bowlers who are taller and hitting the deck harder, it's not like first-class cricket," said the Karnataka youngster who is playing in only his fourth Test.
"So it's something that I have to work on and discipline myself. It's my favourite shot and I will not stop playing the shot, so I will discipline myself and get to know what is the right line and length to pull," he said.
Rahul said his skipper Virat Kohli told him to remain positive after India lost two early wickets in the morning.
"I played a couple matches for India A and in Bangalore before coming here, so I was hitting the ball well. So I came here with a very clear mind with a very positive attitude and get runs. We lost a couple early wickets, and then Virat came and told me to stay positive.
"And we batted really well, saw through the first session and we were still getting runs. We were still cautious and it was a very confident partnership. That's the mindset I went in with, to look positive and get runs. I am happy it worked for me today," Rahul said, talking about his innings and the big partnership with skipper Kohli.
India will be a bit disappointed as not only did Rahul go on, Kohli and Rohit Sharma (79) were also unable to get big scores. The scorecard could have read a lot different instead of currently hanging in balance with India six wickets down.
"You do feel like that you could have done a lot better and the team demands a lot more from you. Especially for me as an opening batsman, firstly it is my responsibility to lay a good foundation in the first session and make sure to see through the new ball so it does not cost us a lot of wickets," he said.
"But we are all very young and looking to learn and get better in Test cricket. This is the biggest learning curve compared to the last Test. The things that we spoke about and the things we worked on, we came out here and executed them well. So we are happy with that," Rahul added.
Talking about the two partnerships he had, the big one with Kohli and the other for the fourth wicket worth 55 with Rohit, he said, "I have always enjoyed batting with Virat. Even in Sydney he was there when I reached my hundred. He brings in a lot of energy and a lot of positivity when he comes in to bat.
"With Rohit, it is a lot calmer. He likes to take his time. You look at him batting and you feel like he is batting with so much ease and so much time. It was a lot of fun to bat with both of them. They have played a lot of cricket, so they understand the game better than I do. It is good to have partners like that and I enjoyed batting with both of them."
Before the series began, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were considered first-choice openers, but the latter's injury allowed Rahul to play in Galle. It is the same case with Dhawan's injury at the P Sara Oval here. With a second hundred in four Tests, the youngster has added a new equation to the openers' conundrum when all three are available and fit.
"From the team's point of view, it is a great place to be in. All your openers are getting runs and with every given opportunity, all of us are making the best use of it. Even in Bangladesh, you saw Shikhar and Vijay bat really positively, and they set the tone for the Test match. If not for the rain, maybe we would have won the Test match because they got runs at a very good clip. When it comes to the three of us, we are enjoying each other's success," said Rahul.
"We are spending a lot of time together at the nets, talking to each other, trying to give each other a lot of inputs and talk about the bowlers. They have played Sri Lankan bowlers, they were there telling what their bowlers do and what their skill is. So, I enjoy being there and being a part of the team," he signed off.