Centurion (South Africa) : Following Team India’s first-ever Test victory at Centurion, stylish opener KL Rahul on Thursday said that 2021 will go down as one of the great years in the history of Indian cricket, especially with regards to Test format.He added that his 123 against South Africa in the first Test here is right up there for him alongside his other overseas hundreds.Rahul’s seventh Test hundred apart from sharing a 117-run opening partnership with Mayank Agarwal in the first innings set the base for India registering a 113-run win in the Boxing Day Test. The win has enabled the tourists to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.”I think right up there, in terms of the conditions, wicket and how challenging it was, I think this innings will be right up there for me because I had to take lots of guts, determination and discipline to get this century and get my team to a winning position. So, yeah, it’s right up there for me,” said Rahul in the virtual press conference.
The Test vice-captain summed up 2021 for Indian cricket as a ‘super special year’ due to stunning overseas wins in Australia, England and now South Africa. “It’s a super special year for Team India. The kind of achievements we have gotten in this year has been truly special. It will go down as one of the greatest years in Indian cricket history, specially Test cricket. We have worked really, really hard as a team for the last few years and have truly started to see results and be really happy.”Talking about the mood in the dressing room after the win, Rahul remarked, “The dressing room atmosphere is amazing at the moment. Obviously, it’s a great Test victory. No Asian team has come here and won in Centurion. The kind of hard work we have put in the last two weeks leading up to this Test match, we worked really hard as a team and had a lot of fun at the training and practice.””To go out there in the first game of the series and to put up a performance like that, which has been a complete team performance gives us a lot of confidence. We can enjoy this victory for a day and then get back to training and start focusing on the next Test match.”
The 29-year-old, who picked the ‘Player of the Match’ award, attributed the win in the series opener to lessons from the last tour of the Rainbow Nation in 2018. “We learnt a lot from the last tour. A lot have been on two and three tours prior to this. There’s been a lot of learning and have sat down as a unit and discussed the mistakes we made in the previous series, what we need to do better and what it takes to be successful and consistent in a country like South Africa.””We have shared our experiences with the group. I think that’s really helped us and have come better prepared this time around. The training, preparation and mindset grit of the team is what has given us such a brilliant start to the series.”Rahul signed off by saying India will look to build upon the brilliant start at Centurion in the next Test at Johannesburg. “We will look to build from here and take it one game at a time. What we did brilliantly in this Test match was we stayed in the moment, took it one session at a time and didn’t think about the result, pitch and weather. We just stayed in the moment and tried to do our best and will continue to do that and build on it.”
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