Indian opener KL Rahul’s innings was vital in setting a platform for the Men in Blue’s victory over Pakistan in a high-octane International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup clash at Old Trafford in Manchester on Sunday. But he insisted there is still more to come after rating his own display as a measly six out of ten.
Promoted to the top of the order due to Shikhar Dhawan’s hand injury, Rahul was composed in making 57 off 78 balls as part of a 136-run opening partnership with Rohit Sharma.
That was a record first-wicket stand in an ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match between these two great rivals and helped set India on their way to an intimidating total of 336/5.
Although that was eventually revised down due to rain, Pakistan still slipped to an 89-run defeat as Rahul enjoyed his first game against India’s greatest rivals, in addition to relishing the chance to climb the order.
“Shikhar and Rohit, in the last three or four years, have been such a dangerous combo. Their partnerships, if you see anywhere in the world, they’ve played so well for the country and they’ve been No.1 and 2 – they’ve owned those positions," the ICC press release quoted Rahul as saying.
"I’ve had to wait for my chance and I’m just happy that I got to bat in the top three. It's my first international game against Pakistan and it has come in a World Cup so I couldn't ask for anything bigger or better. An opportunity like this to go out there and perform for your country, for your team, just gives you immense confidence."
“As a kid or as a young cricketer growing up this is what you dream to do – I'm really happy that I got the opportunity and I give myself six out of ten! Hopefully I carry on the confidence and get better," he added.
With Dhawan ruled out for at least another game or two, Rahul will have the opportunity to continue his burgeoning partnership with Sharma.
And the 27-year-old insisted that there was no great secret to their strategy against Pakistan that ultimately put India in control of the match.
“With the new ball, against any bowler, it’s important to see off the first few overs,” added Rahul. “That was especially true here because we didn’t know what to expect from the wicket as it had been under covers for the past few days.Those first few overs are obviously the most difficult time because you don't know what the ball is going to do in the air and off the seam."
“Once we got through those, we felt a lot more comfortable. For an opening batsman it's important to hit a few balls in the middle of the bat and get a few boundaries going. Then you start to focus on the game and all the pressure, the hype of India-Pakistan and the World Cup stage just goes away from your head," he added.
“The initial few overs are the fight, so we were happy to get through that and happy to get the win," the Indian opener signed off.
India will now lock horns against Afghanistan in their next clash of the mega event on June 22 at Rose Bowl Cricket Ground.