Kolkata: Opener KL Rahul feels that had another six overs been available, India could have won the first Test against Sri Lanka, which ended in a draw after a riveting final day. India turned it around in the final two sessions with pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar hitting top gear en route to a superb bowling figures of 4/8 to reduce Sri Lanka to 75/7 in pursuit of 231 before bad light stopped play at 26.3 overs.
“These are the kind of matches you look forward to. We could have made a match out of it if we had five or six overs more. It’s a good experience for all of us. I don’t think I played a game like this personally — shortened and rain-curtailed but goes down to the wire. It was very exciting,” Rahul said at the post-match media conference.
Rahul rued the fact that on a pitch like the one on offer for the first Test, full five days of cricket was not possible due to inclement weather.
“It was absolutely an exciting game. On a wicket like this, it would have been great if we had have five days of cricket,” Rahul said at the post-match news conference as more than nine hours of play was lost.
But Bhuvneshwar’s incisive bowling made it difficult to for Sri Lanka as India sniffed a win in the final session before bad light came to the visitors rescue as both teams head to Nagpur for the second of the three Test series beginning November 24.
“This wicket had something for pacers on all days. Towards the end, yesterday cracks opened up a bit more, so there was more seam movement. A lot of swing was on offer during first two days because of the dampness,” Rahul reasoned for the first innings debacle where India were all out for 172.
Rahul reckoned that had Sri Lanka batted first on this kind of a track, the situation would have been completely different.
“It would have been a completely different situation if they batted first but that’s how it goes. We enjoyed the challenge batting first and it was a good experience for all of us,” he said.
Rahul was all praise for Suranga Lakmal, who got seven wickets in the match.
“Lakmal bowled rally well and there was help for for pacers. Our bowlers produced some beauties in the first innings. We beat the bat a lot but they were lucky as none of the edges carried or went to hand. I didn’t think first Test would be so close after two rain-interrupted days.”
Rahul praised his teammates for making a match out of it after being 17 for 3 on the first day.
“We played really well to come back from how we started… We were 17/3 and to come out of it and make a game was commendable, it speaks volumes of the team and howe we evolved. Bowlers did the job batsmen played really well. It would have been nice to win but we have two more Tests we would look forward to that,” the Karnataka batsman said.
The Sri Lankans were seen engaged in a time wasting tactics as physio was coming on to the ground on a few occasions while Niroshan Dickwella was coming off his crease while Mohammed Shami was bowling that led to a heated exchange. Terming it a tricky affair, Rahul did not blame their rivals and said they would have done the same under a similar circumstance.
“That’s how the game is played. Nobody wants to losegame. These are tricks of the trade and are used by every team. Nothing unfair about it.
“As a team, you try to win you try to push in as manyovers you can but that’s how it’s played. You can’t really complain. Like I said we could have made a match if we got about five-six more overs. It was exciting for us.”
Rahul scored a fine 79 in the second innings but once again failed to convert his start after his ninth fifty in last 11 Test innings.
“It’s obviously disappointing but I’m not worried. I never played for numbers. Looking back, I would have wanted to convert at least half of them into 100s and my stats would have been a lot different showing eight-nine hundreds.”
No one is more disappointed than him as the team wants him to convert the starts into big hundred.
“It is disappointing as team looks forward to me go for bigger runs. I can get runs much faster if I stay there in the middle to give bowlers more time and cushion. I am sure it will come and I’m not really worried.”