After four-and-a-half seasons of Indian Premier League in three teams with two World Cup-winning captains — M.S. Dhoni and Eoin Morgan — by his side, Rahul Tripathi has turned out to be a fine cricketer. He is not afraid to attack the bowlers upfront and while fielding, he plucks catches out of thin air.
Son of an army man, Tripathi enjoys the hard yard. Fitness training during the lockdown period in 2020 toughened him for top-flight cricket and he was a fireball for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2021.
In a chat with Sportstar, the talented batsman from Pune who was instrumental in KKR’s only two wins this season, feels the tables can turn in the second-half of the tournament as it is likely to be held after a long gap.
How are you dealing with this sudden no-action period after seven games in IPL 2021?
For everybody, the stoppage of IPL was a setback. Personally, I was getting into a good rhythm and I was batting well. Whatever preparations I had done before the tournament, I had tried out a few things, clicked at the right moment. And doing some good fitness drills during the COVID period helped my fielding. I was able to lead from the front in the fielding part. I was trying to improve myself with every game and I felt I could win more games for my team.
You started your career in M.S. Dhoni’s Rising Pune Supergiant, and now you have played under Eoin Morgan. How was the experience?
Morgan is very calm and he takes your suggestions. He will just move you when he wants. He is very clear about what he wants. When I was fielding, he wanted me to cover the bigger part of the ground to stop the twos. Even if you don’t get results but the effort is there, he will back you.
What do you think went wrong for KKR?
I thought we were playing well as a team and getting better. The Mumbai Indians game was a little setback. We were not able to finish and lost by 10 runs. It got us a little low on confidence. In this tournament, momentum is important and from there, we lost one or two extra games. Had that game gone our way, we could have won more.
Do you feel KKR can bounce back since it will be a fresh start?
I think it can be a blessing. We lost two or three close games but everyone was excited for the second half of the tournament. We believed we could bounce back. We were hungry to win. I think we have been a little used to the situation due to COVID. Last time, we got just 10 days of practice. Even if I don’t get games before that, it won’t be something new. If IPL happens, I will not think of anything else but go out there and win games.
Rahul Tripathi kept one end solid as KKR lost Morgan, Narine and Rana in quick succession against Rajasthan. – BCCI
You scored a 29-ball 53 against Sunrisers Hyderabad and a 32-ball 41 against Punjab Kings; both for a winning cause. Tell us about those two knocks and the shot-making…
Playing shots was a way to put the bowlers under pressure. At times, a lot of people in T20 cricket can think that a new batsman may take singles but attack unsettles the bowlers. It was also a role given to me, to score runs quickly for the momentum, by the team management. I wanted to play at a good strike-rate and get the boundaries.
How ready are you if an international call-up comes by?
If you see the IPL, I had done well except for one year with Rajasthan Royals but I returned and performed for KKR as I got a chance to play. If I get an opportunity to play for India, it will be a great breakthrough in my career. There are a lot of youngsters who have scored runs. If I get the opportunity, I can do something for my country.
We don’t see too many players from Pune in Indian cricket team these days. Have you considered moving base for more opportunities at the local level?
It’s true only a few have gone on to play for India but they have shown us a way. For a year or two, it has been up and down for me in Maharashtra cricket and that’s when I thought performing in IPL could get me more opportunities. Sometimes I do go to Mumbai for local cricket. But Maharashtra has always given me opportunities. There are players who have shown how we can do well, so it is a motivational factor to make Maharashtra proud. We were just a step away from lifting the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy when I was captain. When your team does well, you get those opportunities. Even from Pune, we can represent our country.