<
>

Toughest session I've faced in Test cricket - Rahul

play
'Toughest session I've faced in Test cricket' - KL Rahul (1:58)

India batsman KL Rahul believes Dharamsala wicket is the best one in the Test series against Australia (1:58)

Before the start of the Border-Gavaskar series, KL Rahul had four Test centuries and only one fifty. Now, halfway into the fourth and final Test, he has added five more half-centuries to his tally but hasn't converted any of them into a hundred. On Sunday, having scored 60 and laid the platform for India's reply to Australia's 300, he was out to a short ball from Pat Cummins.

"Quite honestly, not regretting anything," Rahul said when asked about the series he has had so far. "Obviously, a little disappointed that I have not been able to convert the starts and get big runs for the team. As an opening batsman, my responsibility is to spend as much time in the middle as I can, try and get big scores in the first innings so that we don't have to bat in the second innings.

"On a personal front, [it] hasn't been the worst series for me. Got starts, batted really well, enjoyed batting in the middle, and the Aussie bowlers haven't made it easy. They have challenged us in all the games. Thoroughly enjoyed batting and hopefully [I can play] one good knock in the second innings. Might be the knock I have been waiting for the whole series."

Not for the first time in the series, Rahul was out playing an aggressive shot. This time, he tried to hook Cummins - having earlier either swayed away from or fended at his other short balls - and toe-ended it to cover. Rahul said he had bungled the execution of the shot rather than the thinking behind it.

"Horrible execution for sure," he said. "But having batted out there in the middle for a long time, I thought I could have taken him on as there were no fielders at the back. Like I said, horrible execution, the intent was right.

"But I can always sit here and question intent and a hundred things. But then in the middle, I thought I could take him on but [it was] unfortunate it didn't go my way. Hopefully, in the second innings, I can get him away. So I will go out with a positive intent in the second innings again."

Rahul said the conditions had given some assistance to all of Australia's bowlers, the spinners and the quicks, and that they had kept India under pressure right through the day.

"It has been a fantastic cricket wicket," he said. "Something in it for everybody. [Nathan] Lyon and [Steve] O'Keefe spun it and of course, [facing] Josh [Hazlewood] and Cummins in the first session, I can say, is the toughest session I have faced in Test cricket so far.

"They put the ball in the right areas and they swung the ball, bowled with a lot of pace and venom. There is something in it for bowlers and it will keep us interested in the second innings when we go out there to bowl."

Given the control Australia exerted, Rahul said India had done well to end the day where they did - six down and trailing by 52. He said India's pace of scoring - they have made their runs at 2.72 per over so far as compared to Australia's 3.38 in their first innings - was a reflection of how well Australia bowled.

"I think we played really well," he said. "They did put a lot of pressure. They put the ball in the right areas. It's not like we missed out on any boundary balls. These are the sessions in Test cricket that you have to grind it out and play these off.

"You tell yourself that the runs will come, maybe after tea in the last hour. When I was batting in the first session, my intent was to give the ball and the bowlers the respect and I can come out in the second session and make some runs."

One prominent feature of the Dharamsala pitch has been the cracks on its surface. In the morning session, Hazlewood, in particular, got the ball to misbehave frequently off them, though this tendency died down as the ball grew older. Rahul said the cracks would continue to play an influential role in the match.

"I think the ball will do things off the cracks," he said. "Even when we bowled the first day, a few balls did do something funny off the cracks. The conditions are really good for the fast bowlers like I was mentioning. The conditions aren't too hot. There is some swing out there and the fast bowlers out there are enjoying bowling on this wicket."