Rahul Dravid and KL Rahul have more than one thing in common. Apart from their first name, they both are Indian cricketers, both belong to Karnataka and both are right-handed batsmen.
During the Australia ODIs and New Zealand tour, KL was also given the duties of a wicketkeeper to add more balance to the Indian side, a role he performed quite well, just like his idol.
Dravid has had a great influence on KL’s career. A 13-year-old Rahul who was making an impact in age-group cricket caught the Indian legend’s eye and was given a pep talk.
“I remember KL got back-to-back double centuries in an Under-13 tournament. He first scored a double hundred at the NRA ground and then scored another double hundred at Chinnaswamy stadium. At the same time, Dravid was undergoing endurance training,” Rahul’s childhood coach Jayaraj told TOI.
Jayaraj then asked KL to observe Dravid as he batted in the nets.
“When Dravid padded up for a net session. I asked KL to sit at the boundary ropes and watch him. I told him to watch his technique and batting style,” Jayaraj said.
“I did the same for at least a week. Rahul used to watch Dravid carefully,” he added.
Then Dravid surprised Jayaraj and young Rahul with his observations.
“After finishing one net session, Dravid came and said, ‘I watched this kid’s batting (double centuries). He played wonderfully. He has a future, please take care of him,” Jayaraj said.
“I didn’t know a player like Dravid would have so much observation about a kid. I requested him if he can speak with Rahul for some time. Rahul was so happy to meet him. He (Dravid) spoke with Rahul and gave him a pep talk. Rahul still remembers that conversation,” the coach added.
KL went from strength to strength after that and has till now played 36 Tests, 32 ODIs and 42 T20Is for India.
“He (KL Rahul) has always been a good listener. Whenever he is in doubt or in any sort of problem, he calls and we discuss that. He is still a kid and a brilliant student of the game,” Jayaraj concluded.