IPL: Rahul Tripathi gears up to don KKR colours, gets ‘tested’ | Cricket News – Times of India

Rahul Tripathi. (File Pic – TOI Photo)

JAIPUR: An ankle injury in the middle of the IPL, a forgettable domestic outing and a lean patch that pushed him on the fringe, were reasons enough to leave Rahul Tripathi disconcerted last season. But what kept the Maharashtra batsman’s spirits high was his fresh involvement with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) during the training camps at the franchise’s academy in Mumbai.
Having shrugged off what happened in the 2019-20 season, the 29-year-old is charging up for the UAE sojourn with the purple army.
Excited about playing IPL, Tripathi said the process has begun and his first Covid-19 test has already been carried out. “KKR management is getting us tested. I didn’t go anywhere as the medical personnel came to my house and took my swab for testing. As of now nothing has been finalised, but we have been told it can be anytime after August 15 when the players will be asked to come to Mumbai or at some other place,” said the batsman who was bought by the Kolkata-based franchise for Rs 60 lakh.
Holding up at home during the lockdown was not easy, but the Pune cricketer saw through the tricky phase with the help of some gym equipment and advice from the KKR’s strength and conditioning coach Chris Donaldson. “It was a tough time being stuck at home and the news of IPL taking place brought along a lot of hope, cheer and positivity. During the lockdown it was a bit of a challenge as we are used to attending gyms and practicing at the ground. In March I had started preparing for the IPL and was at the KKR Academy in Mumbai then and all of a sudden lockdown was imposed on March 24. But thankfully, I have some equipment at home, so my training did not get hampered as such and Chris was constantly guiding us with workout routines.” And after the unlock started, Tripathi started with the outdoor training. “I started training at the ground following every safety protocol. Me and four other friends of mine have formed a group and we train together at the Legends Sports Club in Pune. We decided to revolve our lives around our families and the cricket ground, meeting no one else in the process.”
Talking about the chat among the KKR boys about what to expect in UAE, the right-hand batsman said they are not expecting anything or thinking about it. “We will get three weeks to prepare ourselves in the UAE and that would help us acclimatise. Nobody is sure how it’s going to be as even the grounds are lying unused and after a while grounds will be over-used.”
Bonding with the KKR boys began during the Ranji Trophy 2019-20 season itself and this is the reason why he feels completely at home in their company. “During the Ranji Trophy as well, whenever I got the time I visited the KKR Academy and attended the camps. It was a good experience as it also brought along a lot of exposure. Being surrounded by assistant coach Abhishek Nayar and captain Dinesh Karthik was not only fun, but they also helped me settle down in the team. I also stayed in a flat with my KKR teammates Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Nikhil Naik and Varun Chakravarthy for a month and we all played the DY Patil Tournament. Even Venky Mysore (KKR CEO) sir used to visit us there at the academy. It was a family-like feel.”
A top-order batsman in the domestic circuit, Tripathi is at his best when he is batting up the pecking order. But he says, representing the Rajasthan Royals for two years has made him flexible enough. “I think I am one player who can play both as an opener and as a middle-order batter. Playing for RR at the positions has given me a good experience,” he said. Playing in the top-order for his first IPL team Pune Supergiant in 2017, the Pune-bred player was the most consistent performer who scored 391 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 146.44. During his stint with the Royals where he was tried at different positions, Tripathi’s strike rate was 135.32 in 12 games in 2018 while it was 119.49 in eight games that he played in 2019.
Will he miss being in the Royals dugout? “I had great experience with RR. My first year with them was good, but in the second year I felt the ankle injury during the CSK game in Chennai played a big role in stopping me from playing to my full potential. I felt a bit bad about not being a part of the Royals as I was there with them from the last two years and had more to offer to the team. But I took it in my stride. I feel playing for a new franchise will give me a different exposure and different challenges, which is good for my growth as a cricketer.”
Talk about his domestic outing last season and Tripathi acknowledges not scoring enough runs, but expected more support. “In the previous two seasons before 2019-20 I was the highest run-scorer for Maharashtra, but this year I missed out on rhythm. I somewhere felt things could have been better if I had the support. I was made to sit out for a few matches as well. I accept I did not start well and there was a lean patch, but then one innings comes through and I would have been back on the track,” said the batsman who has played 44 first-class matches for Maharashtra.

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