Steady KL Rahul has no intention of launching a voyage to Planet Rohit as India start to contemplate the knockout stages of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
The versatile batsman has enjoyed a quietly effective tournament and thinks he would be a fool to try to play like the man Virat Kohli described as the best in the business.
India’s victory by 28 runs against Bangladesh at Edgbaston guaranteed a place in the semi-finals with a game remaining, against Sri Lanka at Headingley on Saturday.
Rohit Sharma starred again with his fourth hundred of an increasingly prolific campaign, prompting captain Kohli to call him the leading one-day player in the world.
But the contributions of Rahul have been deceptively telling and his opening stand of 180 with Sharma represented the best of the tournament for the first wicket. This after the pair added 136 in the high-pressure game against Pakistan at Old Trafford.
Rahul’s experience of opening in the longer format has served him well after moving up the order when Shikhar Dhawan was forced out because of injury – and knowing his own game has been a significant factor behind his success.
“You would be a fool to be tempted to bat like Rohit because he is in a different class,” he said. “He is on a different planet altogether when he gets going.
“He made it look really easy [against Bangladesh] when really it wasn’t anything of the kind. The pitch was two-paced, up and down, not coming on to the bat, but from the way he played you would not have known.
“We expect it from him and he is delivering every time. To bat with him is really easy because he takes the pressure off you. He keeps getting the boundaries and the scoreboard keeps ticking, I just have to keep there with him. It is great fun.
“He has scored the most runs for the team, but everyone else has chipped in and we have talked about that as a team, to keep the contributions coming from the middle order and at the death.
“Personally, I feel I have been going well, but am not fully satisfied as I haven’t carried on after some of the starts. When I say ‘convert’ I mean getting to, say, 35 or 45 overs as often as I can because in these conditions it is the set batsmen who can do the most damage.”
Rahul, 27, lasted until the 33rd over against Bangladesh before edging a sharp catch which wicket keeper Mushfiqur Rahim held well to his right, but the 77 was his highest score of the World Cup so far.
“We did enjoy a bit of a celebration after the game,” he said. “We are two steps away from winning the trophy and that has been a dream we have worked towards for the past four years.
“We put in a clinical performance, we batted and bowled well, and we have this winning momentum. Now we have to make sure we keep our heads up and our eyes on what is happening.”