IPL 2021: Classy KL Rahul must become a box-office attraction, writes Ramiz Raja

Ramiz Raja
Filed on April 20, 2021
Punjab Kings captain KL Rahul. (BCCI)

Rahul is being weighed down by the pressure of captaincy which is blurring his approach

KL Rahul is a viewers’ delight. He is aesthetically one of the most pleasing batsmen on the eye, a purist to the hilt. For someone who is betrothed to technique, dancing to the music notes of T20 batting can be one hell of a challenge.

But he somehow does it.

The gig gets harder for him at Punjab Kings, though. His job has the layer of captaincy as well. And so here is a teaser -- he has won nine out of 10 matches for India when he has batted for 40 balls or more, but only eight out of 18 matches for Punjab Kings as captain when it’s been a 40-ball plus innings.

It’s a statistical no brainier. The guy is being weighed down by the pressure of captaincy which is blurring his approach. Taking responsibility to bat through the innings is inspiring, but what we need to see is if whether it has produced the desired results.

In Indian colours, he has the magical talent to fall back on if the scoring rate dips. But it gets tricky in franchise cricket where he has to be three in one: set, hold and slog.

As an opener at Punjab Kings, he has a choice to set the tone of the innings. Maybe, he puts too much price on his wicket and wants to stay till the end which pulls down the scoring rate.

The power play batting thrust loses its steam once the field is opened up. His knock of 61 off 51 balls against Delhi Capitals got ranking points of -13, worst in the game, by Cricviz, an analytical company based in UK.

That was because the overall run rate in the match was 10.25. But Rahul could only muster a strike rate of 7.17.

The Punjab Kings’ strategy to keep wickets in hand is a flawed take on the game as time and again strike rate has won the battle over archaic wickets in hand logic.

Since the start of the 2020 IPL edition, Punjab Kings have played 17 matches. And in 13 of those matches, they lost less than eight wickets in their 20 overs.

Yet, the fact has not hit home that preserving wickets does not guarantee success.

A new GPS needs to be fitted, otherwise KL Rahul will end up as someone with a huge talent that shot himself in the foot.

He is a match-winner, but he should adopt a new T20 approach -- where he targets a 50 off 30 balls. And that will make him a box office attraction.

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