KL Rahul promises aggression from India with WTC points up for grabs
As India enter a critical two-match Test series in Bangladesh, eyeing important World Test Championship (WTC) points up for grabs, stand-in captain KL Rahul said his boys will try to be "aggressive" in their approach with the ball and the bat.
Placed fourth in the league table after losses in South Africa and England, India are left with heavy loading to do at the heels of the ongoing WTC cycle away versus Bangladesh and later at home against Australia if they are to make the marquee final at The Oval next summer.
Speaking to the press before the first Test in Chittagong, Rahul recognised the context and said his team's aim will be to readjust to the Test match game quickly after six months of only white-ball cricket and seize the crucial moments and sessions over the next five days.
Bangladesh being a growing force to be reckoned with in home conditions, India could ill-afford slip-ups, especially as they miss multiple regular names in the form of skipper Rohit Sharma, premier allrounder Ravindra Jadeja and the pace duo of Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.
KL Rahul speaks ahead of Chittagram Test
"You won’t go in with any set mindset," said Rahul at the pre-match press conference. "You look at numbers and take certain pointers from that. We’ll go out there, try and be aggressive and try and get a result."
"The game is played over five days so it’ll be important to break it down into smaller targets and try and achieve that. Every session the demand of the team will be different, so we’ll assess that. One thing is for sure, you’ll see a lot of aggressive cricket from our side," he added.
After the highs of an unprecedented win in New Zealand at the start of the year, Bangladesh's Test match game has had a sad reversion to mean. The Bangla Tigers suffered a horrible whitewash on the following trip to South Africa and have since succumbed to the bottom spot on WTC ranks with a solitary victory from ten matches. That, Rahul agreed, however, can be no cause of complacency in an Indian group reeling from a 2-1 ODI series loss at the beginning of the trip.
"We always look at the opposition the same way, regardless of who they are. At this level, every team is the best from that country. The bowlers that we come up against will always be challenging. They have some quality bowlers and that’s the challenge of playing Test cricket."
Another reason for India to keep their guards strong would be the lack of game time in red-ball cricket for several of their key players. The team has played only five Tests matches this year, with the last of those scheduled in July against England in Edgbaston.
"Obviously you’ve got to try to go back to the basics," Rahul said. "For us as a team we’ve played a lot of Test match cricket, it’s about reminding ourselves what we did and we did well. It’s about trying to repeat that. Each time we play a different format, it’s a challenge - the mindspace the individuals are in will be different."
"As a leader, it’s important to back the players and let them make their own decisions. We know that every player will turn up and will try to do their best for the team and country. It’s important that we also enjoy our cricket and not think too much."
"What is it we’re required to do as a team, and what is it we’re required to do as individuals to win the game for the team’ - we try to get into this mindset and do our best," he added.