Rahul hisses with a 28-ball 57 in India’s 16-run series win South Africa in the second T20I to silence his critics on Sunday.
The Indian vice-captain’s pass rate had been scrutinized during the Asian Cup and his 56-ball 51 against South Africa in the series opener in Thiruvananthapuram.
“Yes, higher hitting speed was a requirement of these innings,” Rahul said at the post-game press conference.
“Obviously when you’re hitting first, you want to give yourself a few overs to assess the conditions to see what shots you can play, you talk to your partner,”
“You kind of give yourself a target and then you try to play accordingly. We’ve always tried to be more aggressive, take a lot of risks. That was what I needed today and I’m glad it came out today.” he added.
Rahul watched as he effortlessly smashed a pair of sixes across his fine square leg with his impressive wrist work.
“Yes, we all have a certain gift, that’s why we play for the country. We’ve come this far because of course there are certain talents.
“It’s T20 cricket, you have to get into position to hit sixes. When the balls get to 90mph you don’t have much time to see the ball and react, you hit with instinct. It’s a lot of practice over the years,” he said.
Their aggressive approach to hitting was a deliberate attempt after the latest T20 World Cup debacle in the UAE, where India failed to knock out the knockouts.
“That effort has been there in the last 10-12 months since the last World Cup, which (scoring big points, hitting first) is something we have consciously tried to get better at. We did it when we had opportunities, something took back and that was our learning process.”
In Pics: India defeated South Africa by 16 runs to reach the T20I series
Bowling no problem
Rahul also came to the rescue of India’s besieged mobsters who capped off another bad outing here on Sunday.
India defended 237 and brought the South Africans back to 47/3, but the hosts were unable to break the 174-run partnership between David Miller and Quinton de Kock as the duo nearly led the Proteas to a memorable victory.
“If it was such a big concern, I don’t think we would have won so many games. It’s never that one skill that wins your games,” Rahul said.
“We always want to get better as a team. Today was one of those days when our bowlers couldn’t execute seven out of ten balls, but that doesn’t mean it will keep happening. This is something we have to learn and get better at.”
“In the last game they limited the team to 106 and today they went for runs. You also have to consider the conditions, the field,” added the 30-year-old.
Arshdeep Singh, who fired Temba Bavuma and Rilee Rossouw in three balls in his first over, leaking 62 runs in his four overs, while Harshal Patel had the poor numbers of 4-0-45-0. Both are part of the World Cup squad.
The Indian opener, who batted for a straight half-century, added that the dew made it difficult for the bowlers to get hold of the ball.
“It was damp and there was dew so it was hard for the bowlers to get hold of the ball and when the opponent is chasing 240 you know the batters will come hard, try and bust every ball.”
“In a setup like this, you’re going to have good days and bad days, both as batters and bowlers. It’s a high-intensity, high-risk game.”