Rahul vindicates No.3 promotion

SRH batsman pleased to play his newly-defined anchoring role among dashers

Dubai 01 May 2014
With Shikhar Dhawan, Aaron Finch and David Warner, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have one of the most dangerous top-orders there can ever be. However, their first few matches in Pepsi IPL 2014 gave an impression that there is little or no solidity to bind the team together if two of the mighty three fall cheaply.

To remedy that situation, SRH management took a punt and sent the young Lokesh Rahul at No.3, above David Warner, to play the anchor of the innings. The 22-year-old was surprised to have been given the promotion, but in the end, he proved the SRH think tank was right.

Rahul played his part perfectly, scoring 46 off 40 balls and putting up a 111-run partnership with David Warner (65) for the third wicket. After SRH’s thrilling 15-run win over MI, Rahul described his new role in the side and revealed what he wishes to borrow from the Sunrisers’ top-three and add in his own batting.

Here are excerpts from his exclusive interview:

You were promoted at No.3 today and you totally vindicated the decision.

The team management showed a lot of faith in me by promoting me up the order. They told me yesterday that they were planning to send me one-down, although I felt that I have been scoring at a run-a-ball and it is not enough in the T20 format and so I will be pushed further down the line-up. But the coach told me it is okay for me to play my game and take my time. He said batting at No.3 my role would be to rotate the strike and help the team lay a solid foundation so that people like Warner and Sammy can build on it. I am glad I could do that today. In the last couple of games, I got 20s and 30s and threw my wicket away, which wasn’t helping the team. I was sent higher up the order so that I have more time to pace my innings.

What is it like to watch someone like David Warner bat at the other end?

It’s thrilling! I would sit at home and watch the Ashes, I watched the Australia-South Africa series where he demolished the Proteas. I hoped some day I could bat like him and today I got a chance to build this partnership with him in a very crucial game. For a youngster like me there’s so much to learn. In the training, it’s different. It’s in a real match, you get to learn how players like him plan their game, target the bowlers and what runs in their mind.

What is it that runs in his mind? What did you guys talk about during your partnership?

People who watch him bat think David Warner is just an aggressive batsman who goes bang bang bang. But in reality, there is a lot of thinking and planning that goes in his innings. Today, he took his time initially before upping the ante. He believes in his ability and knows he will make up with big hits later in the innings. He’s among those players who can score 20 runs off an over at will.

Does he bat right-handed in the nets as well?

I think he batted better than I did right-handed. I was struggling to get Malinga away and there he goes, takes him on batting right-handed and smashes him over what could be a third-man for a right-hander. We’ve seen him bat right-handed in the nets and he really puts in a lot of work in that aspect. He doesn’t just play right-handed but smashes the ball hard. To generate that kind of power with your wrong hand is simply amazing!

What is that one thing each that you’d like to take from the batting of Shikhar, Finch and Warner?

With Shikhar it’s about how calm he keeps himself in any situation. Also, the cut and the shots he plays over point and cover are wonderful. FInchy is someone who can hit the ball very hard. I haven’t seen many people hit the ball as hard as he does. He has a great balance at the crease, has a strong base and then launches himself. That is something that I would like to pick up from Finchy. As far as Warner goes, I’d love to be able to bat left-handed and smash the ball as hard as he does batting right-handed.

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