India’s star batsman KL Rahul believes the suspension that followed his unsavoury comments about women on a TV show – Koffee with Karan last year completely changed his thought process about his game, resulting in consistent performances. Rahul admitted that following the incident he was adamant on proving himself as a batsman and started focusing on his individual scores when he made a comeback post his suspension. Also Read - Which Three Cricketers From India's 2019 WC Squad Would He Pick in his Team of 2003? Sourav Ganguly Responds
Rahul and Hardik Pandya faced severe criticism following their sexist remarks on ‘Koffee with Karan’, and were called back home from Australia in January last year after being suspended by the BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (COA). The 28-year-old said he had failed on his return to Team India following the suspension because he was focused only on individual performance. Also Read - Hardik Pandya Responds to Virat Kohli, Adds Another Twist to Hop Push-up Challenge | WATCH VIDEO
“A lot of credit for my consistent performance goes to how differently I started thinking after 2019. With this suspension and with all that happened, I was tempted or I was in a way wanted to be selfish and play for myself, and I failed. So I told myself I need to go out and do what the team wants me to do,” Rahul told ‘India Today’ . Also Read - On This Day: Rohit Sharma's Masterclass Against Bangladesh in 2019 WC
Rahul’s fortunes surged as he not only replaced Rishabh Pant in white-ball cricket but also scored 303 runs in five innings at an average of 75.75 and a strike rate of 114.77 in ODIs.
Opening the batting in T20Is, the right-handed batsman scored 224 runs at an average of 56.00 and a strike rate of 144.51.
Rahul said the suspension made him realise how short a cricketer’s shelf life is and he decided to channelise all his energies in the right direction.
“We all know our careers are not too long and I realised after 2019 that I probably have a good 12 or 11 years left in me and I need to dedicate all my time and energy towards becoming a player and team man,” the 28-year-old stylish Karnataka batsman said.
“That mind-shift really helped and took a lot of pressure off me when I started focusing on wanting to do better for the team and be a part of champion teams and make a difference in the game.”
He has always enjoyed the backing of Rohit Sharma and Rahul said he is a big fan of India limited-overs vice-captain’s batting.
“Humbled by Rohit’s words (that KL Rahul is the first choice and then it’s decided between me and Dhawan in T20Is for opening slot). I have been a huge fan of his batting and I have played with him for a few years now.
“He is someone who is in the team, how do I say, like some cricketers get dumbstruck after watching Sachin Tendulkar, they don’t know what to say. When I am with Rohit off the field, I am still not been able to get through,” Rahul said.
Rahul thanked Rohit for having faith in him.
“He is someone in the team who has given me the sense that he has a lot of faith in me and as a senior player, I have seen that he has backed me and stood by by me on a lot of instances,” the Mangalore-born said.