It’s been nine months since India’s semifinal at the 2019 World Cup in England but the heartbreak of the defeat is as fresh as yesterday for KL Rahul. India ended the league stage at the top of the points table with 15 points from nine matches but a top-order failure, of which Rahul himself was a part of, saw them go down to New Zealand in the first semifinal at Manchester, which was contested across two days. Also Read - Wicketkeepers Need to be Given More Consistent Run in Indian Cricket Team: Parthiv Patel
Chasing 240 to win, India were reduced to 5/3 with Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli combining for three runs. Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni added a fighting century partnership but with their dismissals in quick succession, India’s hopes faded and they eventually fell short of 18 runs. Also Read - Ben Stokes Questions India's Intent During World Cup 2019 Game vs England at Edgbaston, Says There Was No Intent From MS Dhoni And Kedar Jadhav
Nine months later, Rahul revealed most of the players are still trying to come to terms with India’s semifinal loss. Also Read - Today, Skill Coaches Tend to Double up as Mental Conditioning Coaches: Sanjay Bangar
“It has to be the World Cup semi-final,” Rahul responded when asked which match he’d like to change in an episode of The Mind Behind. “I think most of us are still not over that loss, it is still haunts us sometimes. I can’t imagine what the senior players must have felt but you know in a World Cup it just becomes even harder and knowing that we played so well in the entire tournament. Yeah, so, you I still wake up to that nightmare sometimes.”
Rahul has been in a good space of late. He’s been backed by Virat Kohli to be India’s wicketkeeper batsman in ODIs, maintaining Rahul’s new role gives India a balance in the batting order. With the top three settled in Rohit, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli with Shreyas Iyer to follow at five, Rahul is a strong contender to be India’s No.5. Add to that the return of Hardik Pandya and India look a pretty formidable batting unit.
Kohli’s faith, and more importantly, that of the team management has been repaid by Rahul, to an extent that he picks the India captain if someone was to bat for his life. “I’ll go with Virat (Kohli) because I know, everybody knows he is a great player. We share a great friendship and he will give it all to save my life,” he said.
Kohli has never given up on Rahul. In fact, back in 2014, after an atrocious Test debut at MCG, Rahul’s was included in the final Test at Sydney, which was Kohli’s second time leading India following MS Dhoni’s retirement from Test cricket. After scores of 3 and 1 in Melbourne, Rahul struck a century in just his second Test and marked his arrival into the Indian team.
“I think that innings, that series just changed the way I looked at myself, the confidence that I got from bouncing back so quickly and at an international stage, where, you know it’s a dream for every player, was incredible,” Rahul elaborated.
“I realized that, you know, if I put my mind to it, there are things that I can achieve, that even I had never thought I could. So that innings did give me a great deal of confidence and it just changed who I was as a person and as a cricketer.”