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India vs South Africa 1st Test: KL Rahul happy to have mastered the waiting game | Cricket News

Man of the Match KL Rahul’s first-innings 123, marked by the sort of impeccable discipline that most Test openers only dream of, gave India the head start in Centurion. This is the second time this year, after the 129 at Lord’s in August, that Rahul has played a sublime part in an overseas Test win.
Thursday’s win was the perfect end to a splendid year in which Rahul says he has completely revamped his attitude to the longest format and revitalized his Test career.

Six of his seven Test hundreds have now come overseas, so it’s hard to believe this is the same cricketer who missed 16 Tests in succession between Sept 3, 2019 and Aug 3, 2021, the most by an Indian batter during this period.
“I worked really hard on my game when I was out of the team for a couple of years. I worked a little bit on my technique but I don’t think I’ve made too many technical changes,” a pleased Rahul said. “It’s about my mindset, how calm and disciplined I have been. It’s all coming nicely now. The discipline I’ve shown is my biggest contribution away from home. It was just grit and determination.”
This is the same batter who averaged a shocking 7.50 on India’s last tour to South Africa in 2018, with a highest of 16. Rahul, make no mistake, took guard in Centurion with a point to prove.
“We learnt a lot from the last tour. We’ve sat down as a unit and discussed the mistakes in the previous series and what it takes to be consistent and successful in South Africa,” he said. “We were better prepared this time. I would rate this (Centurion) knock right up there, in terms of the conditions and the wicket and how challenging it was. It took a lot of guts and discipline to get this century.”
So how difficult was it for him to make the adjustments needed? “It’s something that I’m enjoying doing a lot. That’s the key to Test cricket. You need to enjoy leaving balls outside off-stump,” he said.
“We play a lot of One-day and T20 cricket, smashing the ball all over the park. It’s exciting but when you come to Test cricket you have to learn to be disciplined, learn to play the waiting game. The mistakes happen when you get bored of doing the same things. “I’ve learnt to enjoy playing the defensive shots, tiring out the bowlers. This is what is expected of me as an opener. Since England, when I’ve started playing Test matches again, I’ve enjoyed doing those things. I’ll have to do the same thing all over again at Wanderers (in the next Test).”
The entry of Rahul Dravid as the new coach will, no doubt, help with the discipline part. “When a great player like Rahul Dravid comes in as coach, you want to sit with him and talk about what he had done in these conditions, how he was successful for so many years. You talk about the art of batting. We’re all very lucky to have him in the dressing room. He’s brought a lot of calm and balance. He focuses more on preparation. He made us work really hard in training,” Rahul said.
‘One of the greatest years in Indian cricket history’
On India winning four Tests outside Asia this year, Rahul said, “It was a super, super special year for Team India. The kind of achievements we got his year have been truly special. It will go down as one of the greatest years in Indian cricket history, especially (in) Test cricket. The victories have taken a lot of hard work and a lot of discipline. We’ve worked really, really hard as a team for the last few years. We’re slowly starting to see results. The atmosphere (in the change room) is amazing at the moment. No Asian team has come here and won in Centurion.”

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