My intention to stay positive and aggressive paid off: Rahul
Kingston : Going through a purple patch, centurion Lokesh Rahul said his intention to stay positive and aggressive on the second day paid off as he put India on the driver’s seat in the second Test against West Indies here.
Opening the innings, Rahul scored a composed 158 on day two to help India finish at 358/5, a lead of 162 runs with still three days to go.
It was the highest individual score for Rahul, who had notched up his maiden ODI hundred on debut in Zimbabwe. This is his third Test ton overall and all three of them have come outside India – Australia, Sri Lanka and now in the Caribbean.
Even so, his place in the eleven is not confirmed yet, as he was a replacement for the injured Murali Vijay. That could change in the near future.
“To me, it didn’t look too difficult. I went in there and started hitting the ball from the first or second ball. Obviously, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the nets. It’s a different challenge once you go out there and when you have the pressure of the game,” Rahul said after the end of the second day’s play.
“I tried to keep things simple. I’ve been in good form for the last 3-4 months. I’ve been moving well, and hitting the ball really well.
“My plan when I went out yesterday was to put the loose balls away and be positive and have a very aggressive intent. I am really happy with the way I batted. I don’t know whether it is easy or tough, but the simplest things if you do it right, it pays off all the time.
“That is to play to the merit of the ball, you think the ball is there to be hit, and you feel confident, then you hit the ball. I tried to keep it simple,” he added.
The 24-year-old from Karnataka said he is enjoying his consistent run in all three formats of the game.
“The last couple of months, I’ve been performing well. I’ve been consistent in all the three formats and that’s what I want to do as a cricketer,” said Rahul.
“I’m only watching the ball and trying to judge the ball and if I think the ball is there to be hit, I’m hitting the ball. I’m very happy with the space I’m in and the focus levels have been great.
“The biggest challenge was obviously the weather, it was a very hot day. When I went into bat yesterday, the wicket wa still a little two-paced and a little damp, and the ball was doing a little bit.
“Those were the challenges but once I got a few runs under my belt, and once I spent a little time on the wicket, I felt comfortable. To have Virat Kohli, R Ashwin and the other guys speak highly of me definitely gives confidence.”
Rahul batted for much of the second day, and put on two solid partnerships, first with Cheteshwar Pujara and then with skipper Virat Kohli.
Pujara batted slowly in the morning session, and then was run-out for 46. In the last session of play, West Indies struck thrice as the new ball did some damage on the rugged pitch.
“I think he batted really well. He had some good leaves outside the off-stump. And you probably have to give a little credit to the West Indies bowlers as well. They came in with a set plan this morning, to keep it tight and not give away easy runs. They tried to bowl the fourth-fifth stump,” Rahul said.
“The wicket obviously isn’t the easiest to bat on. It is a little spongy sometimes, and two-paced. So you couldn’t play through the line or go after the bowlers when they bowled those channels.”
Talking about the West Indies’ bowling, which was very disciplined and didn’t give free runs, Rahul said, “Shannon Gabriel was challenging in every spell. We obviously know that he is one of their strike bowlers.
“Our plan with him was to see him through and give the ball the respect it demanded and put the bad balls away. We were in no hurry, so we could take out time and wait for the loose balls. At the end of the day, we have still gotten the amount of runs we wanted to get. We are very happy as a batting unit.”
India now lead by 162 runs, with Ajinkya Rahane (42) and Wriddhiman Saha (17) at the crease.
Thunderstorms are predicted for the third day, but the visitors will be looking to force the issue and bat for as long as possible.
“It’s a Test match, and you have all the time in the world. We have bundled them out for 180 (196), and we still had four days to go. We were in no hurry,” Rahul said.
“On this wicket, since yesterday it has been doing a little bit with the new ball. I think they bowled really well from the first ball this morning, and they kept the pressure on us and didn’t give easy runs.
“They got a couple of wickets in the last session. All in all, we’re happy and there are no complaints at the end of the day,” he signed off.