Having impressed one and all with his scintillating strokeplay in IPL 2016 for Royal Challengers Bangalore, India batsman KL Rahul embarked on his new journey with Kings XI Punjab amidst plenty of expectations.
Rahul, who has represented SRH and RCB in the past, was roped in by the Punjab-based franchise for a whopping price tag of INR 11 crores during IPL auction in January 2018. And the stylish right-hander has managed to justify the worth of his lucrative bid thus far.
Unlike his preceding franchises, KL Rahul is playing at the top of the batting order for KXIP and is the second highest run-scorer for his side with 292 runs in 8 games. The 26-year-old has also notched up a record 14-ball half-century in his very first outing for KXIP. No wonder, Rahul is delighted to stamp his authority on the cash-rich while batting at his preferred position.
“That’s the position [opening] I am most comfortable in. I have opened the batting all my life. I know exactly how to pace my innings when I open the batting. While batting in powerplay, you have so much time. You have the whole 20 overs to yourself. I always enjoy batting top of the order and it has been good fun so far,” KL Rahul quoted in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times.
When asked if he has learnt a thing or two from his opening partner Chris Gayle, the Karnataka lad said: “I love how Chris Gayle is so still at the crease. He believes in his strength and that he can clear any ground. That’s mostly why he hits those big sixes, because he’s always in great position without trying to hit the ball too hard. Watching that from the other end, even I try to do that. Maybe I can’t hit the ball as far as he does but I try to stay balanced in the crease. That gives me the best opportunity to get as many runs as I can.”
The KXIP franchise have a strong chance of qualifying for the play-offs given the fact that they have won 5 out of their 8 matches thus far and are currently placed at No. 4 spot on the points table.
Talking about his experience of playing under Ravichandran Ashwin in IPL 2018, Rahul said: “I have been lucky enough to play under some fabulous captains starting from MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and now Ashwin. I was under David Warner at Sunrisers Hyderabad. That’s the beauty of IPL as you play with different people.”
“Ashwin has been great with the team. He is someone who is proactive and spends a lot of time with the younger bowlers. He has been clear about what he expects out of the team and that is to be fearless and do as your instincts tell you. He has given the players cushion and freedom. He has told them that they will get chance to perform,” he elaborated.
Rahul concluded by talking about his experience with RCB and how he feels not to be retained by them despite doing a reasonably good job.
“That’s how the IPL goes. Each team has a different plan. I would love to play for RCB because it is close to me. The team played a big part in where I am today, because of the opportunities that they gave me. But this is how the game goes. But I am honoured by the love that Kings XI has given. I am loving the new challenge,” he signed-off.