KL Rahul knows exactly what it would mean to win this year’s World Cup in England, having seen for himself what a 2011 triumph on home soil meant to his fellow Indians.
Eight years ago, Rahul was a teenager watching television in a Bangalore bar as Gautam Gambhir’s 97 and then-captain MS Dhoni’s 91 not out saw India beat Sri Lanka in the World Cup final in Mumbai.
“When the game was over it was absolute chaos. The roads were blocked, everybody left their homes and was on the road celebrating,” Rahul said Friday as he recalled the aftermath of India’s second World Cup triumph.
“It was an unbelievable experience to see so many people forgetting about their worries. Whatever they had going on in their lives, they were just so, so happy India had won the World Cup.
“It was even bigger because we won it at home in India — it brought billions of people together and brought so much joy.”
Rahul was already a first-class cricketer but said watching the match made him want to focus more.
“I knew what a World Cup could do to the country, how big it is and how valuable it is to be part of a World Cup dream,” he said.
“To be here after eight years representing my country means the world to me. I’m looking forward to hopefully inspiring billions of people again and to win the World Cup would be the icing on the cake.”
Now the 27-year-old Rahul finds himself in the same side as Dhoni and fellow 2011 winner Virat Kohli, the star batsman who has succeeded the wicket-keeper as India captain.
And he said the current side had the talent to equal the achievement of Kapil Dev’s celebrated team in 1983 by winning a World Cup in England.
“To be part of this team is incredible,” Rahul said. “It’s not just MS and Virat, there are so many other talented individuals — Rohit (Sharma) and Shikhar (Dhawan) and Jasprit (Bumrah), who is the most feared bowler in world cricket right now.
“Hopefully the hard work we have put in over the past two or three years means we can go out there, enjoy ourselves and win the World Cup.”