On Sunday, India will face arch-rivals Pakistan in a high-stakes Asia Cup ‘Super 4’ match in Colombo, with KL Rahul in the squad and available for selection.
Talking about his return from injury in a video posted by the BCCI, Rahul, who can also play the role of wicketkeeper, said, “I am feeling good. It is good to be back with the team. It has been quite some time since I have been away. I am glad everything worked out on schedule, happy I could tick all the boxes.”
Rahul suffered a thigh injury during the IPL season earlier this year, which led to a nasty tendon tear necessitating surgery.
“I tried chasing a ball, but my tendon snapped. I had a full-fledged tear, my tendon ripped apart from my quadriceps. When it happened, my family, franchise and everyone had their fingers crossed hoping it was not something big, but a small strain that could go in two weeks. But after scans, we realised it was a full tear and it became clear that I could recover from it after going under the knife,” said Rahul.
“It took us a few days to decide where I was supposed to go for surgery and who was the best surgeon and I would like to thank the BCCI, physios and doctors who made sure I got the best treatment and surgery. You need the support of people at such times and I had it,” .
Rahul said that he has learned how to “respect your body” after it goes through a big change like a surgical intervention.
“During the surgery, you have to respect that your body has gone through something big, a big repair and you must give it enough time to recover. Skills-wise, I knew I needed just a few weeks to get back in touch. I gave myself 2-3 weeks to get back to playing cricket and get the skill part of it. The big part was to feel confident in my own body, stay pain-free, free in movement that needed a lot of intensity.
“I knew I had to keep wickets on my comeback. The physios and I were concerned about it and there was a question mark in my head. When you are squatting down for every ball, it needs a lot of strength in your quads. You need your body to support you and feel pain-free,” said KL.
He also highlighted the “mental battle” he had to fight during the recuperation phase.
“Sometimes, you fight a mental battle where you feel you might feel pain and it does not let you focus on skills. Getting over that fear and pain was a really big challenge. It can only happen when you take things step by step. NCA (National Cricket Academy) trainers and physios guided me on when to step up and step down. That is how skill took place. I started sprinting, but during that process I developed a small niggle just before I could come back, which was a big downer.
“I was ahead of the schedule and felt I could come back before the Asia Cup and give myself some time. But that niggle pushed me back two weeks. There were ups and downs during recovery. I was ready mentally, this helped me a lot,” he said.
“When I had surgeries and injuries previously, I found myself bored, not knowing what to do, not having any motivation to wake up and do physio. It becomes boring and frustrating. But this time, it did not happen. I do not know what it was, but I managed to get the motivation to do the boring stuff. Being away from the game for such a long time, I wanted to enjoy something as boring as physio, which is not as rewarding as playing a game of cricket.”
“I tried to enjoy each day as it came, it made it easy. It felt that time went by quickly. There were a couple of weeks that felt really long, but mostly it was happening really fast. I was training, improving every day, so I felt motivated to go back and train,” Rahul added.
At the end of the day, after going through a testing phase off the field, he is keen to return to the field and play for the country once again.
“Happy to be back in the team, get back that rhythm of playing for 50 overs, 100 overs, wicketkeeping for 50 overs…getting back that adrenaline. We are playing some quality teams in the coming days, I hope all goes well. I am confident, and have prepared well,” said Rahul.