Ramesh Rao still remembers days at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore where young Lokesh Rahul had to follow tough routines during sessions. Post the Under-19 World Cup, things weren’t going Rahul’s way. Rao, who was a coach at the NCA, once even asked the Karnataka opener to take a few days off but youngster disagreed.
“Have you seen Rahul bhai? Despite playing for India, he still practices so hard. I want to be like him and he always says there is no substitute for hard work. Entertainment can happen after playing for India, so let me continue,” Rahul replied.
Rahul’s approach is well known in Bangalore and those who have seen him, don’t hesitate to say how Rahul tries to mimic former India captain Rahul Dravid. His walk from the pavilion to the crease is a copy of Dravid and the 21-year-old openly idolises Rahul like no one else.
“He is my idol, mentor, everything. Since the time I started to play cricket, I have tried to copy him. Be it his walk, batting stances, strokes’ I always want to get that same touch,” Rahul told The Indian Express from Singapore where his unbeaten 93 enabled India U-23 to clinch the ACC Emerging Team Cup final against Pakistan U-23.
Cricket’s most famous rivalries was reduced to a one-sided contest as the Indians chased down the 160-run target in just 33.4 overs at the Kallang. Baba Aparajith shone with a three-wicket burst, while pacers Sandeep Warrier and Sandeep Sharma grabbed two wickets each.
Electing to bat first, Pakistan got off to a pedestrian start. A clump of wickets followed when their third wicket fell on 88 and soon, they found themselves at 107 for 9. They lost seven wickets for 19 runs as the match slipped away.
In the Indian chase, Rahul missed out on what would have been a well-deserved century by just seven runs but stitched an unbroken 132-run stand for the second wicket with Manprit Juneja (51 not out) as India rounded off their impressive unbeaten run in the tournament.
Rahul was the mainstay of India’s batting in Singapore and did well in