After nearly five months break, KL Rahul has hit the nets for the upcoming Indian Premier League. The cricketing action was halted due to the global pandemic novel coronavirus since mid-March and recently the cricket has returned with the England-West Indies Test series.
“After running on concrete and treadmill for months, when you step onto the ground you feel like you’re walking on a cloud,” the India top-order batsman said to TOI in an exclusive chat. “It’s difficult to explain the feeling. I was half in tears, half smiling. In fact, I just couldn’t stop smiling. Just to be able to get out and run on the ground felt so good.”
The swashbuckling India player has been going through a purple patch. Not only with the bat but also with the keeping gloves as well. Currently, he is preparing to lead Kings XI Punjab in the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League in the UAE next month.
He said, “It taught me to be grateful for a lot of things in life like just being healthy and having food on the table. During the period I also learnt to be a lot more patient. I’m grateful that I got to spend quality time with my family, which I haven’t been able to do since my junior cricket days. It gave me an opportunity to reach out to and help less fortunate people. Also, I learnt to cook.”
“Not having that chance to go to the gym or practice was frustrating,” he said. “But we adapted well. We managed to put together gyms at home. Some of us started cycling, running in the car parks of apartments. We didn’t have a choice. There were days when I was annoyed and frustrated, but I kept telling myself there were a lot of others having it much harder and tougher in life,” he further added.
He expressed, “I was scared. I kept wondering if my skills would remain the same when I returned to the sport. I had nightmares. A couple of times I woke up in the middle of the night because I dreamt I had forgotten how to pick the line and length. It scared the hell out of me. To be honest, when I went back to play the first session, it was horrible because I was rusty.”
Meanwhile, KL Rahul who joined Kings XI Punjab franchise in 2018, said that he is ready for the challenge. However, he claimed that he is not sure about the situation in the UAE.
“As a leader, you will have to be mindful of the fact that a lot of players will be rusty. We will all be nervous because we are restarting the game with a major tournament without much action in recent times. So, it’s important for a leader to make the players feel comfortable and let them know that it’s okay to feel like that initially. That said, it will be a good learning experience for each one of us because we have a great set of coaches and support staff,” he said.
“I haven’t really thought about it. I’m still looking forward to going there and finishing the six-day quarantine and getting back to training and preparing with the boys. All I know is that the weather’s going to be hot. So, we have to be in good shape to withstand that. Most likely it’s going to be slow and turning wickets. We have a good set of spinners in our line-up and our batsmen are well equipped. That gives me a lot of confidence going into the tournament,” concluded KL Rahul.