‘Today, people are singing praise. 3 months ago, everyone was abusing me’: Rahul | Cricket


The year 2023 presented a series of challenges for KL Rahul. His troubles began with being sidelined from the T20I side at the start of the year, resulting from inconsistent performances in the 2022 T20 World Cup. After a string of low scores, he also lost his place in the XI mid-way through the home Border-Gavaskar trophy. While Rahul assumed wicketkeeping responsibilities in ODIs following Rishabh Pant‘s unfortunate car accident, Rahul’s anticipation for the 2023 World Cup suffered a setback due to a hamstring injury sustained during IPL 2023. This injury cost him the opportunity to represent India in the World Test Championship final, where the team faced a significant 209-run loss against Australia.

KL Rahul plays a shot during the first day of the first Test cricket match between India and South Africa, at SuperSport Park Stadium(PTI)
KL Rahul plays a shot during the first day of the first Test cricket match between India and South Africa, at SuperSport Park Stadium(PTI)

Rahul’s comeback to the side during the Asia Cup 2023 showcased his impressive wicketkeeping skills. However, the spotlight intensified on his batting performance in the World Cup final. Despite scoring 66 runs, his slow-paced innings of 107 balls, featuring only one boundary, drew heavy criticism from both fans and experts. India ultimately lost the final by six wickets, and Rahul found himself at the centre of harsh critique, even enduring online abuse from some disgruntled fans.

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But the 31-year-old is now on an upward trajectory, leading the Indian ODI side to a 2-1 win against South Africa earlier this month. On Wednesday, Rahul notched his 8th Test century in Centurion, and, while addressing the media, took a look back at a challenging year laced with a mixed bag of frustrations and opportunities.

“It is difficult, obviously,” Rahul said of handling what is said about him. “You have your own personality, personality traits, characteristics. When you play international cricket, they all get challenged. As a person, as a cricketer, as an individual, you are challenged each day, each moment. Social media is a pressure. Today I have scored a hundred, so people are singing and handling praises. Three-four months ago, everybody was abusing me. It’s part of the game, but I can’t say it doesn’t affect you; it does. The sooner you realise that staying away from it is good for your game and your mindset the better it is,” said the wicketkeeper-batter.

Rahul insisted it is important to follow one’s routine and draw a line regarding social media consumption. He stated he “worked on myself” when he was away with an injury, even when it was hard to cope with outside pressure.

“You can perform or you can be in a better mindset if you slightly know where to draw the line. Nobody’s that great that they can completely avoid what has been said and the criticism they’re getting. It does affect each person. And anyone who says that doesn’t affect them at all, I’m sure is lying. But each person has to find their way. And for me, when I was injured and was away from the game for such a long time, I worked on myself. I tried to go back to the person that I am, and worked on how I don’t change myself by getting affected by these things. It is difficult to remain true to yourself and true to your personality with so much happening. It is the hardest thing.

“But like anything else in cricket, like anything else in life, there’s, there are ways to work on it. There are people who can help you if your mind is open. So that’s what I did when I was out of the game. I worked on myself and then worked on remaining calmer, and taking care of my head. And what happens inside as well,” said Rahul.

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