Senior India pacer Mohammed Shami on Friday was happy for his teammate and wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul for producing a brilliant innings under pressure and said the team was not bothered and under pressure because of his recent lean patch. Shami said as players, their primary focus is to perform well and contribute to the team's win. He was happy that Rahul could do in the first ODI against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
Rahul scored a brilliant unbeaten 75 and raised 108 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket partnership with Ravindra Jadeja (45 not out) as India recovered from 83/5 to chase down the target of 189 and win by five wickets, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Shami was at the forefront of India's brilliant fightback with the ball as he produced a brilliant second spell to claim three wickets -- bowling two maiden overs during this period as he claimed 3-17 from six overs.
Return to form?
Rahul has had a lean patch in recent times, especially in the red-ball format, and had lost his vice-captaincy in Test cricket. He was also under pressure as an opener because of the emergence of youngster Shubman Gill, who scored a double hundred against New Zealand in India's previous ODI assignment earlier in the year, and left-handed batter Ishan Kishan, who is also a wicketkeeper like him.
Questions were being raised about his position in the team, but Rahul silenced his critics with a fine effort in the first ODI.
Batting in the middle order, a role where he's had success since the last few years, Rahul showed nerves of steel and played a well-controlled innings, playing normal cricketing shots, unlike the Australian middle-order batsmen who perished while trying to score quick runs.
Shami said Rahul was not under pressure over his position in the team as he has played many good innings for the team in the past. "We talk a lot about pressure, players going out of form or returning to form but a player always tries to play a good inning, making a good start for his team.
"He has played so many good innings in the past. It happens sometimes that luck does not favour you, or things are not working out well if you are trying to do something," said Shami during the post-match press conference on Friday.
Thrives under pressure
Earlier, in the second ODI against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in January 2023, Kolkata, India were in a precarious situation at 86/4 in a chase of 216.
Then, Rahul stepped up under pressure to slam a gutsy unbeaten 64 and take India over the line. In his 64 not out at Kolkata, Rahul played out 60 dot balls and hit six sixes, while taking 34 singles and three twos. Something similar happened today in Mumbai and'Rahul showed why he's a dependable batter at number five for India in ODIs.
Shami added the pressure on Rahul was because of the situation in which he went to bat. "The pressure was certainly there. We had lost so many wickets in quick succession, but the way he rebuilt, it was very nice to see that one of our players has made runs in a pressure situation," he said.
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