Sujith Somasundar who opened the batting for India in a couple of one-day
internationals against South Africa and Australia in 1996, played a lot
of cricket at every level with Rahul. He was Rahul's captain in the Under-15,
Under-17 and Under-19 Karnataka State teams. Rahul and he also made their first
class debut in the same match, the Ranji Trophy knock-out tie against
Maharashtra at Pune. Sujith, thus, is someone who grew alongside Rahul on the
Sujith vividly recalled the first time he saw Rahul: "I was already a regular
trainee in this KSCA Summer Camp when suddenly in the middle of the camp
a stylishly dressed boy in sparkling white clothes came to the nets. Even at
that young age he had a presence.
"Actually it was very difficult to get into the KSCA Summer Camp. But
here was this boy walking in mid-way through. I wondered, `who the hell is this
joining in the middle of the camp.' A little later I saw him pad up and bat. He
was very, very stylish in his approach to batting. He made an impression
immediately just with his style."
Within a couple of years Sujith stated that he knew Rahul was destined to play
big cricket. "Those days he used to be very nervous. He used to have sweaty
palms. I believe he was so nervous became he wanted to do really well. He was
so unbelievably intense in his approach to the game even in those days."
The Summer Coaching Camp was just the introduction to formal cricket that
Rahul needed. In no time he was sucked into the game. "The KSCA system took
over from then on. I just had to play and ensure that I did well," explained
Rahul. His career was given a big leg-up when he was selected into the St
Joseph's Boys School Junior (Under-14) team that year. It sharpened his desire
to excel and made him totally focused.