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Team is driven by common goal of winning together: KL Rahul

This is only the third instance when India have clean-swept the opponents in away T20 series and the first time in a five-match rubber. India had blanked the West Indies 3-0 in 2019 and beat Australia 3-0 in 2016.

By: PTI | Mount Maunganui | Updated: February 2, 2020 8:09:41 pm
India players pose for a group photo as they celebrate a 5-0 T20I series win against New Zealand. (AP Photo)

Basking in the glory of a rare 5-0 whitewash on foreign soil, KL Rahul says the Indian dressing room has no junior-senior divide since the team is driven by the common goal of winning together. This is only the third instance when India have clean-swept the opponents in away T20 series and the first time in a five-match rubber. India had blanked the West Indies 3-0 in 2019 and beat Australia 3-0 in 2016.

“Playing with each other we are enjoying a lot for the last 2-3 years and we help each other out. There is no senior-junior in the dressing room, we have a common goal and that is to win together for the country and the team,” said Rahul at the post-match press conference.

READ | Kohli backs Williamson, says ‘New Zealand cricket in best hands’

“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.”

Rahul, who played a key role in India’s emphatic series win with 224 runs in five matches, said they have their eyes on the T20 World Cup in Australia. “Winning the T20 World Cup is currently in our minds and our heads, and we are planning and playing according to that. We want to see how well we can be prepared for that,” said Rahul on Sunday.

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Rahul, who led the side in the fifth T20, said he didn’t have to do much despite missing senior figures. “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. 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,” he said. He further said, “The way we performed, I might have been the captain but the way all of them were involved, everyone knew what to do.”

The scores have gone lower as the series has progressed. Rahul credited to India’s bowling attack to keep a check on the New Zealand batsmen. “Everyone performed as a unit and we have always come out with the answers. The execution level is increasing and they are staying calm. Yuzvendra Chahal and Bumrah are senior bowlers and they have done it before, but Shardul, Saini and Sundar today, they did well and held their own.”

“Bowlers are now fearless with experimenting and are not worried about getting hit. It is important to have that mind set 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.”

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India will next play three ODIs against New Zealand beginning on February 5 and Rahul said they will follow the same process to achieve success in the 50-over format.

“We’ll relax a little bit over the next couple of days and enjoy the victory. But once we start with the next series, the process will remain the same. We want to win games of cricket every time we go out. The kind of cricket we are playing is fun to watch and we hope to keep repeating this.”

Playing so many matches in a month is hard on body

Rahul also mentioned that turning up so frequently for international matches “is hard on the body”, adding to India captain Virat Kohli’s recent observation on schedule.

Speaking about the cramped calendar, Rahul said, “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.”

READ | Kohli had okayed crammed NZ series schedule: Former BCCI COA Diana Edulji

Prior to the start of the tour, Kohli said cricketers are “getting closer and closer to landing at the stadium and playing straight.”

“Well it’s definitely getting closer and closer to landing at the stadium and playing straight. That’s how compressed the game has become… But I think this kind of travel and coming to a place, which is seven hours ahead of India time, is always difficult to adjust to immediately,” Kohli had said on the eve of the first T20I, which was less than a week after beating Australia at home.

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