After a consistent performance in the practice games in the run up to the first Test against the West Indies starting July 21, India’s batsman Lokesh Rahul praised head coach Anil Kumble for making the squad feel comfortable in their respective roles and responsibilities.
In the second and final practice game against West Indies Board President’s XI here, Rahul was retired not out on 64 after his impressive 51 in the first warm up game.
WIBP’s XI ended play on day two at 26/1 in the second innings and trail by 158 runs after India were bundled out for 364 in the first innings, with skipper Virat Kohli (51) and Ravindra Jadeja (56) scoring half-centuries each.
“He (Kumble) has always played his cricket with aggressive intent. As a person too, he is a very aggressive personality. To have someone like him, someone who has played in the West Indies and performed very well, to get his feedback about conditions, it is very valuable for us,” Rahul told reporters at the end of the second day’s play.
“He (Kumble) is doing a wonderful job and has made us all very comfortable in our roles and responsibilities. We are also doing a lot of team activities. It is helping the team bond and we are enjoying each other’s company. Obviously it helps to be in the West Indies. The vibe is relaxed and you want to get on the beach and enjoy. Overall, there is a great atmosphere in the dressing room.”
Despite being amongst the runs lately, Rahul made it clear that he is not thinking about his selection in the first Test playing XI.
“Selection is something not in my control. As players we look to prepare and if opportunity comes by, we want to do well, both for ourselves and for team. There’s still a week to go before the Tests start, so in next couple of days we will know who is playing and who is not. It’s not something I am worried about. What has to happen, it will happen,” the 24-year-old said.
“The idea was to come here early, get used to conditions. I’m really happy with the way I have batted in the last two innings. It has helped in getting used to the conditions here, and the weather is hot and humid. It is not easy to get runs out there, and I have tried to use these two innings and use the time before the Test series. I think I am prepared quite well,” the Bengaluru-born added.
WIBP’s XI off-break bowler Rahkeem Cornwall picked up 5-118 to expose the Indian batsmen’s weakness against spin.
“I think we will be at an advantage if the pitches are spin-friendly. We have three quality spinners who are in good form in the Test format, so we will be very happy if we get turning wickets. At the same time, we have firepower in pace department as well. All of them have increased their fitness levels and pace, so it is good to see them bending their back on tough wickets like these. They are getting the ball to carry, so it is a really good sign,” the Karnataka batsman said.
“I don’t know about other venues. Out here, the pitch has been a little slow. The ball goes soft after 20-30 overs and as a bowler or fielding team, everybody has to put in a lot of effort. If there is not much assistance from the wicket, then coping with the weather is going to be challenging as well. Everyone needs to make an effort together, but we are up for it,” Rahul concluded.