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'People expect you to do as well as Dravid'

February 07, 2014 11:04 IST

'People expect you to do as well as Dravid'

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Manu Shankar

'Dravid has always been my idol, so it's a good feeling when someone says good things about you.'

'He is always there for everybody and all in the state. He always comes for the Ranji Trophy nets... He gave me tips on how to build an innings. More importantly, he motivates you.'

K L Rahul, the Ranji Trophy's second highest run-getter this season and champions Karnataka's top scorer, looks back on a successful campaign in a tete-a-tete with Rediff.com's Manu Shankar.

One of the architects of Karnataka's seventh triumph in the Ranji Trophy was an opening batsman.

By amassing 1,033 runs, at an average of 68.86, which included three centuries and a match-winning ton in the final, and four fifties, Kannaur Lokesh Rahul has attracted attention.

The 21 year old, who not only shares his first name with the legendary Dravid, but also bats like his idol, made his Ranji Trophy debut in the 2010-2011 season against Punjab, but was laid low by injury and poor form the following season.

He was back at his best this year, finishing the tournament as the second highest run-getter and champions Karnataka's top scorer.

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Image: K L Rahul.


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Manu Shankar

This is, by far, the best season you have had.

I've worked hard and stuck to my basics. I made sure that I focussed on the games.

I was determined to do well and am really happy that it has paid off.

It is a dream come true to win the Ranji Trophy. It was pretty much like India winning the 2011 World Cup.

While growing up, I always hoped that someday I would be part of a Ranji Trophy-winning squad; I am glad to have achieved that.

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Image: K L Rahul in action.

Tags: India

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'People expect you to do as well as Dravid'

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Manu Shankar

The century in the final must have been satisfying...

It is always satisfying when you score a century in a final and your team wins.

We were all pumped up going into the final. I was in good form ahead of the final and went in with the mindset to make it count.

How much of those dropped chances were responsible for the triumph?

Maharashtra's fielding was lacking a bit, but I don't think that at any stage of the game those dropped chances meant much.

It was more a case of us dropping anchor and making the most of the lives we got.

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Image: A pumped up K L Rahul after he scores another ton.

Tags: Dravid

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'People expect you to do as well as Dravid'

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Manu Shankar

Karnataka was the most consistent team this season...

Our bowling has always been our strength.

We were a bit worried after the initial matches as our batsmen were not getting runs, but we managed to stay strong, looked only at the positives and eventually made it through.

So, be it be Karun (Nair) or me or Ganesh (Satish), we all chipped in at crucial times.

Of the three centuries and four fifties you scored, which was your personal best?

Of course, the century in the final is the most cherished one.

But the 98 in Lahli (against Haryana) and the 68 against Orissa were also pretty satisfying for me.

It gave me a different kind of confidence; it wasn't easy to bat with the bowlers having their tails up.

It was a test of your nerves and skill.

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Image: K L Rahul in action.
Photographs: Asian Cricket Council on Facebook

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'People expect you to do as well as Dravid'

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Manu Shankar

You burst on to the scene with a bang, but then lost your way. How tough were those low moments in your career?

Failures are always important in a sportsperson's life.

They teach you a lot and you come back stronger. I have valued my failures too and taken it in my stride.

I've worked hard so that I don't go back to the same phase.

The only thing on my mind is that I am batting well; hopefully, I will continue with the same form and focus.

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Image: K L Rahul in action.
Photographs: Asian Cricket Council on Facebook
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'People expect you to do as well as Dravid'

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Manu Shankar

Many comparisons have been drawn between your style of play and that of Rahul Dravid. Does that put added pressure?

Dravid has always been my idol, so it's a good feeling when someone says good things about you.

The flip side is people always expect you to do as well as Rahul Dravid and match up to the numbers.

I don't react to it and just play the way I've been doing best.

Dravid is known to drop in during his free time to catch a game. Did you get some tips from him?

He is always there for everybody and all in the state. He always comes for the Ranji Trophy nets and is a keen follower of the tournament.

I did have an interaction with him, wherein he spoke at length about batting. He gave me tips on how to build an innings.

More importantly, he motivates you.

Besides that, he picks up small things, like footwork, stance, which on other occasions would go unnoticed.

He often tells the lads to put in the best efforts and the results will come.

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Image: The incredible Rahul Dravid.
Photographs: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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'People expect you to do as well as Dravid'

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Manu Shankar

You were part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore dressing room, which boasts of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and A B de Villiers. It must have been a dream come true to be with these stars...

More than the opportunity that I got to bat in the IPL, it's the opportunity of being there in the same dressing room with such class players.

Not only in our dressing room, but also of the opponents who have their share of star players, like Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis; you wouldn't get to see them otherwise.

You get to learn a lot by just observing them how they prepare for a match.

Hopefully, I will get to play with them more this season.

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Image: K L Rahul at the Royal Challengers Bangalore nets.


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Manu Shankar

You are a pretty good wicket-keeper. Is it something you enjoy?

I have always loved wicket-keeping. I am always willing to keep, if the wicket-keeper gets injured; but, yes, I had to concentrate more on my batting.

Besides that, I had a couple of injuries while 'keeping and me being an opening batsman it wasn't really working out too well for me.

I used to be mentally tired. If I had to keep for 150 overs and then come back to open the innings, I couldn't give all to my batting.

I have told my state association that I don't mind wicket-keeping and opening the innings in ODIs or T20s, but in a four-day game the wicket-keeper's role is very crucial.

You don't want to drop a catch or miss a stumping.


Image: K L Rahul.

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