Fresh from his match-winning show in India’s 188-run win in the Chattogram Test, Kuldeep was benched for an extra seamer in Jaydev Unadkat, a decision which was slammed by the likes of Sunil Gavaskar.
“I don’t regret the decision. It was a right decision. If you look at the wickets, our fast bowlers too have taken many wickets and they had a lot of assistance. There was a lot of inconsistent bounce,” Rahul said defending his decision at the post-match media interaction.
Struggling at 74 for 7 while chasing a tricky 145 on a difficult fourth-day track, India survived a scare as Ravichandran Ashwin and Shreyas Iyer pulled off an incredible three-wicket chase with an unbroken eighth wicket partnership of 71 runs.
“We took the decision keeping in mind our experience of playing here in the ODIs. We saw there’s assistance for both spin and bounce. It was to have a balanced side and I think it was a right call,” he added.
Kuldeep had made a spectacular comeback after 22 months, returning with a match-haul of eight wickets and also scored a valiant 40 in a crucial lower-order partnership with Ashwin. He was also adjudged the ‘Man of the Match’ in their opening Test at Chattogram.
“It was really a tough call, knowing that he won us the last Test. But seeing the pitch a day before the game, we felt that there would be assistance for both fast bowlers and seamers and keeping that in mind we wanted to play the best and balanced team that we can,” Rahul said.
The team felt Kuldeep’s absence especially in Bangladesh’s second essay when India with a crucial first innings lead of 87 runs struggled to bowl out the home side.
Bangladesh were 70 for 4 but went on to make 231.
In hindsight, Rahul said he would have loved to have Kuldeep bowl in the second innings if he had the option of the ‘Impact Player‘ rule that would make its debut in next year’s IPL.
“Ideally, if the Impact Player rule was there — like in the IPL — I would have definitely loved to bring Kuldeep in the second innings,” Rahul said.
The Impact Player of ‘Super Sub’ rule, which made its debut in the Big Bash 2020 and was also seen in the Syed Mushtaq Ali domestic T20s this season, means each team can make one substitution in the course of a match.
Each team will submit four substitutes at the toss and any one of them can come in as ‘Impact Player’.
The two-Test series proved to be disastrous for Rahul (57 runs, average: 14.25) and Virat Kohli (45 runs; 15.00) but the stand-in skipper blamed it on the quick transition from white ball to red ball cricket.
“When you play all three formats, it is a bit tricky to jump from one format to another. Personally, it takes a bit of time to get back into the groove and understand, to get your mind back to what you were doing right.
“Each format is a challenge on how quickly you can adapt… It’s a challenge that is something that excites me.
“Obviously performance in this series was not great. I can accept that. I tried my best and it didn’t work. I can look forward and see what I can do better next time,” he added.
Blaming it on their tight schedule, Rahul said: “Unfortunately our schedules are too tight for some of the players who play all formats to do that and get used to too quickly.
“But that’s the challenge for us. Ideally, we would have wanted a lot more time between red ball and white ball to get used to, get our mind back to play red ball cricket and develop a little bit of patience and perform.”
Iyer had a fruitful series as he averaged 101 with two fifties. He was the second leading run-getter with 202 runs behind Cheteshwar Pujara (222) and his assuring presence, especially in the second innings calmed things down.
“He has been around the team for a long time. I’m so happy for him, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The way he played today was phenomenal. He made it look really easy,” Rahul said.