IPL 2020: Strike-rate is overrated, says K.L. Rahul

Winning or trying to win a game for Kings XI Punjab is more important to Rahul than maintaining a mirror-cracking strike-rate with no result.

Kings XI Punjab captain K.L. Rahul is expecting a turnaround in the second leg of the Indian Premier League 2020.

After the 69-run loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad — Kings XI’s fourth on the trot — in Dubai on Thursday, Rahul chose to look at the brighter side of things; the performance of leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi (3/29) and left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh (2/33).

READ: IPL 2020 SRH vs KXIP: Rashid Khan, Jonny Bairstow shine as Sunrisers beats Kings XI

“It was great to see how the fast bowlers bowled and even how Mujeeb Ur Rahman (0/39) and Ravi bowled. They showed a lot of heart. When you don’t get wickets in the first six overs, the set batters can hit you for a few boundaries and sixes. We know the way Jonny Bairstow bats, he is very powerful. He can hit a good ball for a six. What was good to see how the bowlers kept coming back and executed their plans,” he told reporters at the post match press conference.

Despite being in good form, Rahul couldn’t deliver against Sunrisers and he clarified it’s not due to the pressure of being at the bottom of the points table or the additional responsibility of leading the side.

“When you see a team at the bottom of the table, you start to think a lot of things aren’t going right, it hasn’t gone right but no teams have top six players firing. A couple of them will be in good form and a couple of them won’t be looking good so it is important that the in-form players get as many runs as possible. The openers are always expected to give teams a good start.

“Not very worried. If the set batter can get as many runs, that will help and make the team look good,” he said.

Rahul, who registered the highest score by an Indian in the IPL by smashing an unbeaten 132 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, failed against Mumbai Indians (17) and Delhi Capitals (21).

The 63 against Chennai Super Kings didn’t cause much damage as their openers, Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson, made a mockery of the Kings XI bowling attack, winning the game by 10 wickets.

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In T20s, Rahul’s strike-rate is almost touching the 140-mark but the aggressive right-hander has batted in the mid-120s in the last two games in the IPL. “Strike-rate is very overrated. For me, it is only how I can win games. On a certain day, if I feel batting at 120 can win my team the game I will do that. This is how I bat and as leader, you have to take responsibility. We all make mistakes but you learn everyday as a leader and a batter. Every player has a role and it can change each day. At the end of the day, I need to walk out of the ground knowing that I tried to win the game for my team,” he said.

The confidence points

Besides the young bowlers, West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran almost took the game away from Sunrisers by scoring the fastest fifty of IPL 2020 off 17 balls.  And Rahul believes the good performances will provide confidence to the other players.

“They held their nerve and bowled those good overs. That will give the group a lot of confidence. Small things like these are infectious and it can spread.

“Even in the last season, we had glimpses of how good a player Nicholas is. He is somebody who wants to improve everyday and he is very keen on being a match-winner for us. Till he was there, he gave us hope and made the opposition really uncomfortable in the middle. There have been a lot of positives, the points table doesn’t suggest that but I have been proud of how we have played. We need to keep believing that we are a few wins away,” said Rahul, assuring that Bengal pacer Ishan Porel will make his IPL debut soon.

“Ishan has been very good. He has been bowling well at the nets, and I have been impressed. He has had a good first-class season. I am sure at some point he will get a game.”