Opener KL Rahul said India skipper Virat Kohli has already showed signs of being a “great leader” with his energy, passion and penchant for leading by example.
Rahul heaped praise on his captain on the eve of the second One-day International against England at the Barabati Stadium. The hosts lead the three-match series 1-0.
“It is about how he (Kohli) has set examples for us. He has gone out there and done the job for the team many times. We look up to him and we see how he builds his innings, the kind of energy, enthusiasm and the passion he has on the field. It spreads on all of us. We learn a lot from him,” Rahul told reporters.
He added, “He is somebody who is not just looking to have great performances individually but he wants to take the team along. He is always showing us the way, sharing his experience and giving us feedback, telling us what he thinks we could have done better. That is the sign of a great leader.”
In Kohli’s first outing after being appointed skipper of limited overs sides, the hosts were set an imposing target of 351 in 50 overs, but that only brought the best out of him as he struck his 27th century and along with Kedar Jadhav powered India to an incredible win.
With Mahendra Singh Dhoni having relinquished captaincy, Rahul said it’s a great time to have both of them in the side. “It’s just been one game for now but for the guys who are part of the Test team know how aggressive he is as a captain. We love playing under Virat.
“He always supported me and it’s good to have a young leader and also to have MS in the team, who not only guide Virat as a skipper, but also the youngsters. It’s good to have both of them in the team.”
There’s a bit of competition for the opening slots with Ajinkya Rahane waiting in the wings, but Rahul said it is motivating.
“We know there are other guys who are capable enough. That’s what wakes me up in the morning and train harder everyday… to turn up at the practice everyday and work harder.
“There are able and talented guys waiting in the bench to take my place. It’s a good place to be in. We love the competition in team. We never complain of competition or pressure of other guys. It kind of gets us going. We take it in a positive way. We try to remain positive on our work ethics,” he said.
Asked further about the opening combination, Rahul said: “It does not affect or bother me. It’s headache for the coach and captain. We love to have players competing for a slot. We just have to train harder and whoever does the job for the team plays.”
England pacer Jake Ball threatened to unsettle Kohli’s rhythm by targeting him with short balls, but Rahul said it should not be a problem for the skipper, who has been in imperious form.
“Good luck for them, he has so many runs. He has scored a lot of runs off short balls. We are not at all worried about short balls. We like to make runs off short deliveries. Knowing Virat and having watched him score so many centuries, I don’t think it will be a problem.”
Talking about English batsmen, Rahul said they all are hard-hitting ones, but Jos Buttler could play all around the wicket.
“When he was batting in the last game, we knew what he can do at the death. I watched him in the IPL. He’s a 360-degree player. Somebody has to get him out early. That’s the best chance. We have to come up with some plans. The best way is to get them out early,” he concluded.