MS Dhoni-way has inspired KL Rahul while chasing: The 2.0 version of KXIP batsman has yielded results for the franchise.
Despite playing the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup 2010 and making his Indian Premier League debut in 2013, Lokesh Rahul’s limited-overs credentials received a green signal during IPL 2016. In 14 matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rahul had scored 397 runs at an average of 44.11 and a strike rate of 146.49 including four half-centuries.
Rahul, then 24, subsequently made his limited-overs debut for India against Zimbabwe in June. By August 2016, Rahul had become only the second Indian batsman after Suresh Raina to score centuries across formats.
A formidable top-order comprising of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli in association with Rahul’s erratic form has resulted in him playing only 14 ODIs for India since then.
After missing IPL 2017 due to a shoulder injury, Rahul made his presence felt in IPL 2018 by ending up as the third-highest run-scorer. In 14 matches for Kings XI Punjab, Rahul counted for 659 runs at an average of 54.91 and a strike rate of 158.41 including six half-centuries.
KL Rahul – Version 2.0
Matching his opening partner Chris Gayle shot by shot, Rahul even surpassed the Universe Boss last season. However, Rahul once again failed to make the most of the opportunities given in the ODI side. In four ODIs since IPL 2018, Rahul scored 95 runs at an average of 31.66 and a strike rate of 81.19.
Not to forget, the past year was unequivocally difficult for him. From struggling with form to getting dropped to getting recalled to eventually getting suspended, Rahul had been there done that.
How often have two opposing openers batted through an IPL innings? Warner, and KL Rahul more especially have shown the value even in this format sometimes of someone batting deep in the innings. Well played @lionsdenkxip . K L for that No4 slot for World Cup?
— ian bishop (@irbishi) April 8, 2019
That being said, the ongoing IPL season has put forward a whole new version of Rahul. Currently the fourth-highest run-scorer in IPL 2019, Rahul has scored 217 runs at an average of 54.25 and a strike rate of 122.59 including three half-centuries (twice unbeaten in successful chases).
KL Rahul going the MS Dhoni-way
What has come as a deviation this season is not just Rahul’s strike rate (down by 35.82 runs) but his approach as well. Seldom will you see the Rahul of IPL 2019 take risks even in the T20 format. The urge of going for anything and everything has toned down to the extent that Rahul looks more like a graduate of MS Dhoni’s School of Finishing.
1 (5), 71* (57), 55 (47) and 71* (53) have been Rahul’s scores in four innings while chasing for Punjab. Chasing 219, 177, 161 and 151 respectively, Rahul was seen taking the game till the end. Despite him failing to seal the chase against Chennai Super Kings at Chennai, Rahul made sure that he yielded result for his team in the other two innings where he scored a half-century.
While the Rahul of IPL 2018 would have gone after the bowlers to make sure that he finishes the match as early as possible, the contemporary Rahul seems to believe that he has more time than he thinks.
The 26-year old cricketer now appears to inculcate the meritorious habit of sealing chases himself. The fact that an opening batsman is displaying enough patience to do the same calls for relief for both Kings XI Punjab and India.
Given the change in stratagem, there will be instances when Rahul will fail (one being vs CSK) to accomplish his mission. Having said that, if he masters the art of staying till the end more often that not, a failure here or there won’t hurt that much.