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I have 199 reasons to smile: Lokesh Rahul

India Today logo India Today 23-12-2016

India's win against England in the Chennai Test to complete a 4-0 finish will be most remembered for Karun Nair's magnificent triple hundred in his debut series. So also for Ravindra Jadeja's match winning 7-wicket haul on the final day.

But there was another top performer in the game who scored 16 boundaries and three sixes en route to an individual contribution of 199. But Lokesh Rahul knows people would relate this knock with the missed run which would have given him his first double ton. Tragedy sells and hurts even more. Mohammed Azharuddin experienced the agony of being dismissed on 199 and never got another chance to come close to a double ton.

"Look it's a funny game. I came back to playing Test cricket and got out for zero and people thought I was not the same guy," Rahul tells India Today in an exclusive chat.

"It was a tough time for me. I have to be grateful for the runs I have got. I have 199 reasons to smile. I was just one run away from getting a double hundred. That's the way the game goes. You don't always get what you want," he philosophises.

We ask him if it was brain freeze to lose out by reaching out to a wide one? "You could say that. There are only a few times in a batsmen's life when he gets really eager. When you want to get off the mark or when you are approaching 100 or a 200. I was expecting him to pitch on middle or off stump not expecting he would bowl it so wide. I just let my bat go half way through the shot and I was trying to pull back but it was too late," he explains.

The two Bangalore boys Rahul and Karun negated India's disadvantage of having lost the toss by combining to score 502 runs between them and help India get a sizable lead over England's imposing 477.

Having dealt with the disappointment, Rahul says he is just happy his knock played a significant part in a famous Indian win. "I am happy that the 199 helped the team register one of the best victories we have had in last 14 months. There was not a lot in the wicket. We were thinking runs first four days. We wanted to win but did not know how we would do it. We wanted to fight it out. That's the thing about this team. I rate the Chennai win right at top of the list," he says.

Team mate Karun thinks Rahul will get his double hundred one day. Rahul keeping his chin up and in the spirit of healthy rivalry tells Karun getting his record is a target. "You learn from these mistakes. I am happy from the learning. The next time I go out to bat I will try to break Karun or Sehwag's record," he says in all seriousness.

"Karun has set a very high benchmark in the team for us with his 300. His first hundred is a big one. Good to have such competition in the team," Rahul confirms the comeraderie in the Indian dressing room.

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