Interview: "My parents have always stood like a pillar for me" says Services player Rahul Singh Gahlaut
Rahul Singh Gahlaut is a 20-year-old batsman who is currently playing for Services in the domestic circuit. He scored a total of 945 in your domestic season debut at an impressive average of 72.69. He was also included into the India A side for a game against Australia.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Rahul talks about his cricketing experience with Services.
You scored a total of 945 in your domestic season debut at an impressive average of 72.69. How do you analyze this emphatic performance of yours?
Rahul: This wasn't something I was expecting, not even close to it. It was very disappointing for me for not making the cut into the U-23 Hyderabad team because I was captaining in the U-19 Team. As a result, I decided to join the Indian Army and play for the Services team. It was a decision that could backfire in many ways. I was a bit scared because I was a bit pessimistic. I was always wondering that what would I do if I don't make the cut into the team. What if I don't do well in inter-services (Three 3 day matches that helps you get into the Services team). Then I made up my mind that whatever happens let it happen. I had to just enjoy the game. There was a small hope of belief in back of my mind that I can do well at this level. There were several players with whom I used to play in the U-16 were performing well at Ranji Trophy. In Junior age groups, we have done really well and then they did well in Ranji trophy too. So, I knew if I get the opportunity to showcase my skills, I'll make it count. However, it's difficult to carry this belief on the field. I didn't perform well in my first match.
However, I carried a positive approach in the next game. We were asked about how we felt before the game during the practice session. I told my coach that I was in IPS (Ideal Performing State). In the first innings, I was playing well but got out because I was playing a lot of shots. I was batting really well but couldn't capitalize that innings. In the next innings, I couldn't play my shots freely because our team was losing wickets at regular intervals. I had to cut down my shots. It felt good that I could play that way without any problem. Doing something for the first time is hard, but once you practice it, you become used to it. I then went on scoring, without thinking about the pros and cons. I was really confident.
As a team, we couldn't do well at the start, but as the tournament went on, we grew better as a team and then we did well. I was playing according to the requirement of the team and that helped me the most. After the league stage was over, I finished as the 3rd highest run scorer. I finished as the 5th highest run scorer after the completion of the tournament. Later I was told that this was a record for Services for most runs in a season for Services ever and 2nd highest runs in a debut season in the history of Ranji Trophy.
You were selected in the India A team for a three-day game against Australia. Do you see this as a major step towards getting into the Indian team?
Rahul: Yes it was a big step. I look forward to capitalizing these opportunities in order to get a berth in the Indian team. Though I didn't get to play that match, it was a nice learning experience for me. I came to know the level of cricket which I'll be facing in the later stages of my cricketing career.
You aim to be in the Indian team in 5 years. What have all modifications you made in your training in order to reach your goal?
Rahul: I wasn't a big fan of strengthening because I had natural speed, endurance and agility. So I was not fond of training that much. However, I realized that in order to get into the Indian team one needs to be strong too. I started doing strengthening exercises regularly. I never had an initial movement, I came to know the importance of it and added it to my batting. It has helped me lot in playing fast bowlers.
You shifted from Hyderabad to Services. Who supported you the most during this change?
Rahul: It was my parents who have been supporting me from the start. After being in U-23 standby, my parents were very supportive. My dad told me that I should work harder and prove myself as a good player. Others will know your worth soon! My parents have always stood like a pillar for me.
What inspired you to choose cricket as your career?
Rahul: It was my dad who chose it for me and I can't thank him enough for this decision. He took me to parks and made me play cricket daily. It all started when I was 3 years old. My dad loved cricket and he had already decided that he will make me a cricketer. Slowly I got the hang of it and I joined a camp when I was 5.
What was the feeling when you scored your maiden first-class century against Jammu and Kashmir in Jaipur?
Rahul: To be frank, it was just like any other century. Yeah, I was happy, but I wasn't much excited about it. I don't celebrate much after scoring a century.
There are various young cricketers who are frustrated due to lack of opportunities? What piece of advice would you like to give to them?
Rahul: As there's a very tough competition in cricket, it's not possible for everyone to get fair opportunities always. You are going to get very few chances and you have to make it count.. If you don't, then you will have to wait for another chance to come. Keep working hard, stay focused, don't lose hope and you will get your chance again. All you need is a one good year and you will get everything you aspire for.