MOUNT MAUNGANUI: After Virat Kohli talking about India's tight schedule of the game, it's now opener KL Rahul who feels it like a challenge of following the packed calendar. Previously, Kohli joked that with every game, team India is getting "closer and closer to landing at the stadium and playing straight", and now Rahul has said that it is getting hard on the body.
"Every month we have been playing so many games. It is hard on the body so we have been working hard, to stay mentally and physically fit to keep putting up performances like this," Rahul told reporters after India's seven-run win over New Zealand in the fifth T20I in Mount Maunganui.
The win sealed a 5-0 series victory for India, the first time ever that a team has whitewashed New Zealand in a T20I series in their own backyard.
"Travelling away and winning a series 5-0 doesn't happen too often. So the next couple of days we will enjoy that, put our feet up and relax. Obviously we have the confidence going into the ODIs, we have been doing well for the past couple of years. Recent form for 3-4 months has been great too, personally as well as a team, we have been doing well," he said.
The series has been a good one for Rahul personally, in keeping with the rich vein of form he is enjoying in limited-overs cricket. He was man of the series for top-scoring with 224 runs in the series and in the fifth T20I, he captained the team during the New Zealand innings with Kohli rested for the match and Rohit Sharma unable to take the field due to injury. In addition to all this, Rahul has also been India's first-choice wicketkeeper since Rishabh Pant was dropped.
"Every day I wake up and every day I have been thrown into the game, I am very grateful and loving the challenges that are being thrown at me," he said.
"Enjoying my cricket and was great to see how we responded without our leaders when both Virat and Rohit weren't on the park and there were a lot of question marks. The way we performed, I might have been the captain but the way all of them were involved, everyone knew what to do."
Rahul said that he didn't have to do much in the absence of Kohli and Rohit.
"Bowlers are now fearless with experimenting and are not worried about getting hit. It is important to have that mindset in T20 cricket. Today too, without Virat, I couldn't really do much behind the stumps. I cannot run every ball. They were coming up with their own plans. It was great to see they know what to do and more often than not they did what they wanted to," he said.