India's wicketkeeper batter K.L Rahul on Friday credited his batting partner Ravindra Jadeja's presence in the middle for making things a bit easier as the left-hander's entry broke the shackles of the Australian bowlers in the first ODI at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday.
Rahul said the key to batting in such conditions is good footwork and said he played proper cricketing shots as he struck an unbeaten 75 and raised 108 runs for the unfinished sixth wicket partnership as India defeated Australia by five wickets to take 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Jadeja came up with a superb all-round performance, hitting an unbeaten 45 after claiming 2-46.
With pacers Mohd Shami and Mohd Siraj taking 3-17 and 3-29 respectively, India bowled out Australia for 188. They were in trouble at 83/5 after skipper Hardik Pandya got out but Rahul and Jadeja guided them to a well-deserved victory.
"If we are good with our footwork, we could do well and it was fun batting with Jadeja. The minute the left-hander walked in, I got a few loose balls. The left-hander walked in and that worked for us. He played beautifully and he runs hard between the wickets," Rahul told the official broadcaster after the match ended.
He added the pitch surprised them as they had expected it to offer spongy bounce but instead helped the pacers with movement off the seam.
"When we started off, I didn't think it will help the bowlers so much, there would be a spongy bounce. Once Shami came in for his second spell, he bowled well and picked up wickets. The bowlers did well in the middle overs," Rahul said.
He said he enjoyed keeping wickets in this Wankhede pitch as it offered bounce.
"When there's a bounce, I like keeping wickets. It is a bit of a challenge when it is slow and low, it is challenging physically. The ball was moving around and I enjoy playing here at the Wankhede," said Rahul, whose name has been propped up by former India coach Ravi Shastri as a wicketkeeper-cum-middle-order batter for the year's ODI World Cup.
Rahul said things were difficult when he came in to bat and therefore tried to play normal cricketing shots and avoided getting into his shell.
"Saw three wickets fall down early, Starc was swinging the ball well and when he brings the ball back in, he is a dangerous bowler.
"Just tried to play normal cricketing shots. Got a few boundaries away and that settled my nerves. I batted with Shubman (Gill), Hardik (Pandya), and Jadeja. The talk was that there's help on the wicket but we did not want to get into our shells and play out a certain bowler. We wanted to be positive and put the loose balls away," said Rahul.
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