Rahul Tewatia has hailed skipper Steve Smith and the Rajasthan Royals team-management for the trust that they placed in him by promoting him up the order ahead of the likes of Robin Uthappa during the run-chase against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday.
Tewatia was promoted up the order following the dismissal of captain Smith and while the decision came in the firing line as the southpaw struggled to get the ball past the square in the first 20 balls of his innings, Tewatia had immense self-belief, one that was also fueled with the fact that Smith and the team-management had termed him as the ‘game-changer’
Tewatia was being subjected to severe trolling and criticism and social media as he hobbled his way to a 19-ball 8, even as the asking rate soared past 16. But the left-hander shut all of his critics down in what was one of the greatest redemption stories one would ever witness on a cricket field.
With 51 required off 18 balls, Rahul Tewatia proceeded to hit 6 sixes of his last eight balls, stroking 45 runs in his last 12 balls to dramatically change the narrative of the game and pave way for an unlikely victory for his team.
“No doubt I struggled initially. But what kept me going was that I always knew I was one hit away. Once I hit that first six, I knew the flow had come. Also, it was always at the back of my mind that even though I might have missed a few balls to begin with, a few sixes would bring us back in the game,” Rahul Tewatia told ANI.
“You either grab an opportunity or get bogged down by it. Smith and team told me I am their ‘game-changer’. So, it was my duty to ensure that I repose their faith. When the team and a stalwart like Smith backs you, the job is anyway half done. I am blessed to be a part of the RR family,” he added.
England batsman Sam Billings likened Rahul Tewatia’s approach with that of the legendary MS Dhoni, but for the southpaw, the journey has just begun and he wants to inculcate consistency in his game.
“I want to make this a habit. I want to win games for my team and trust me the focus is on being consistent. The journey has only just begun,” he said.
‘To get a call from him and for him to tell me he is proud of my knock is my biggest gift’- Rahul Tewatia on getting a call from his proud father
Tewatia also hailed Haryana Cricket Association [HCA] for the efforts that they put in to ensure that he and his fellow cricketers practiced during the lockdown.
“HCA has been brilliant. Even the best sportsperson can lose focus in such times, but they kept a tab on us, especially Anirudh Chaudhry sir. Be it checking on our diet or our fitness, he would personally speak to the required personnel as well as the players to ensure that there was no interruption in our training cycle. He also keeps the atmosphere lively and encourages everyone’s sense of humour,” Rahul Tewatia revealed.
“It can get daunting to be training on the roof and staying indoors, but the HCA ensured we had mental conditioning classes to keep us prepared for these tough situations. In fact, despite the Haryana team boasting of three international spinners, sir has time and again pushed me to go that extra mile so that I am an automatic choice in the XI. The focus in HCA is on player development,” he added.
The youngster also recalled the sacrifices that his father has made to ensure that he realized his dream, besides adding that getting call from his father, who told him that he is proud of the knock remains his biggest gift
“He is an advocate, but would make time to always drop me to training. So, a few years back, I decided to go and see where he works. It broke my heart that he would sit under a tin roof and work. That is when I decided his sacrifices cannot go to waste. To get a call from him and for him to tell me he is proud of my knock is my biggest gift. Nothing like making the family smile,” he signed off.