KL Rahul made his foray into international cricket on the back of centuries galore for Karnataka and a reputation of watertight defence.
KL Rahul during a warm-up match at the R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium, Colombo in August. Pic/AFP
However, his debut Test was a nothing less than a nightmare with him scoring three and one in the two innings against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last December.
"I had more self-doubt at that moment. There was a lot running in my head," Rahul told mid-day yesterday as he recalled his tumultuous beginning.
Rahul admitted going into the next Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground with a lot of self doubt, yet emerging with a century. "We had a little break which helped me. I spent a couple of days in my room, analysing where I went wrong. But this was reality. I knew international cricket wouldn't be easy.
I like challenges. They make me more focused and stronger. I realised what it takes to pick yourself up and score a hundred. It was very satisfying," said Rahul, who promotes Red Bull Campus Cricket.
The Mangalorean had a similar experience in his second Test series against Sri Lanka in August. Rahul was out in single digits in both innings of the first Test at Galle and was lucky to retain his place in the second Test at Colombo after opener Shikhar Dhawan got injured.
Making the most of his opportunity, Rahul slammed 108 in the first innings that earned him the Man of the Match as India levelled the series. "I couldn't have asked for a better start to my international career. I know exactly now what it takes to succeed in international cricket.
"The five matches that I have played have taught me a lot. It made me realise how I should train to be more consistent. I enjoy playing in challenging conditions," he said.
Advice from teammates and support staff helped Rahul cope with disappointment. "I don't know who told me this, but it was comforting to know that whoever has failed in their first Test, has gone on to score a lot of runs in their career. It made a great impact on me," said Rahul.
The top order batsman is comfortable with the much-publicised aggression of the Indian team which is now battling the touring South African team. "We like to be aggressive and that helped us in Sri Lanka and Australia. The result may not have gone our way in Australia, but we played well.
"Sledging is part of the game. It comes naturally to all youngsters. The nastier the comments, the more determined it makes me to succeed," he signed off.
Tests - 5
Runs - 256
Highest - 110
Average - 25.60
Strike Rate - 47.49