IPL 2021: How KL Rahul put the strike rate question to rest in style

IPL 2021: How KL Rahul put the strike rate question to rest in style

With this blazing knock, Rahul has served a firm reminder to his critics and has put the strike rate question to rest.

KL Rahul
KL Rahul. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

KL Rahul’s strike rate in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) became a subject of intense scrutiny. Even though the Punjab skipper scored 670 runs last season at an average of 55.83 and won the orange cap, the Punjab side finished at the 6th place in the points table.

Also, there were a few people who questioned Rahul’s intention and felt that he put his individual cause over that of his team’s. But then, on 12th April 2021, Rahul produced a resplendent masterclass at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai against the Rajasthan Royals. The Punjab skipper scored 91 and scored his runs at a whopping strike rate of 182.00. And most importantly, he allowed his side to post a win.

The KL Rahul special that left the Rajasthan Royals clueless

KL Rahul embellished the stadium with his ebullient display with the willow. Rahul scored his first boundary off the third ball he faced. Youngster Chetan Sakariya drifted onto Rahul’s pads, and the Punjab Kings’ opener just flicked the cherry past fine leg for a boundary. Rahul’s second boundary saw him edge Chris Morris past the slip cordon. Even though Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson dived in unison to stop the ball, the cherry somehow managed to evade both of them to trickle down to the boundary ropes.

Rahul’s third boundary was a chancy one. To a flighted delivery from Shreyas Gopal, Rahul went inside out but hit the ball to Ben Stokes. Stokes grassed a difficult offering, and the ball went past the boundary. His next boundary was an absolute scorcher. To a length ball from Ben Stokes, the right-hander got onto the front foot and smashed the ball over cover, and the ball sped away like a bullet. Rahul was pressing on the accelerator, exactly at the time his side needed him to.

And then, came another sizzling backfoot drive. To a short delivery from Riyan Parag, the Punjab Kings’ (PBKS) skipper rocked onto the backfoot and pummeled him past deep cover for a boundary. Rahul scored his first six of the match off the 5th ball of the 11th over. Rahul Tewatia flighted the ball to entice Rahul to come down the track, and Rahul obliged. The Punjab opener danced down the track, got to the pitch of the ball, and smashed it for six over the bowler’s head.

Rahul got to his fifty with yet another classic shot. To a half volley on middle stump bowled by Shivam Dube, Rahul smashed the cherry down the ground for six. He had got to his half-century off just 30 balls and given his side the start that they needed. Mustafizur Rahman then bowled a bouncer to Rahul, but the batsman spotted it early. Rahul pirouetted onto the backfoot and nonchalantly pulled the bowler behind square for six. Rahul was playing a gem of an innings, and the Rajasthan side was starting to feel the heat.

Rahul also exhibited his cheeky side as well, during his knock. Off the first ball of the 18th over, Rahul got down on his knees and scooped Chris Morris over fine leg for six. Morris then banged one in short, and in the murderous mood that Rahul was in, he did not miss out. The Punjab opener pulled the bowler over deep mid-wicket, and the ball landed into the stands.

Then came another stunning drive over the cover fielder. Mustafizur Rahman bowled a full delivery outside off stump, and Rahul swatted the ball past cover for a boundary. Rahul was nearing a well-deserved century. But then, his sparkling innings came to a close off the 2nd ball of the 20th over.

To a full delivery from Chetan Sakariya, Rahul brought his wrists into play and flicked the ball. However, Rahul Tewatia pulled off a stunner in the deep to bring Rahul’s innings to an end. The Punjab skipper walked back to the pavilion just 9 runs shy of his ton, but more importantly, he had allowed his side to post a gargantuan total of 221 runs on the board.

Even though Sanju Samson produced an equally scintillating knock for the Rajasthan side and scored a century, the Punjab side edged out their opposition by 4 runs in a sensational thriller to bag their first win of the tournament. And, the happiest man in the Punjab outfit would have been Rahul. For, he had finished on the winning side, after suffering several heartbreaks last season.

KL Rahul’s individual brilliance could not propel his team to success last season

In the 2020 edition of the IPL, Rahul scored 5 fifties and a century in the 14 innings that he played. But then, some of his fifty-plus scores could not inspire his side to a victory. In the table below, let us dissect each and every fifty-plus score recorded by Rahul in the 13th edition of the IPL.

Runs Scored Balls Faced Strike Rate Opposition Match Result
132* 69 191.30 Royal Challengers Bangalore Won
69 54 127.78 Rajasthan Royals Lost
63 52 121.15 Chennai Super Kings Lost
74 58 127.59 Kolkata Knight Riders Lost
61* 49 124.49 Royal Challengers Bangalore Won
77 51 150.98 Mumbai Indians Won

Out of the six fifty-plus scores that Rahul scored, the Punjab side lost 3 of those. Also, 4 out of Rahul’s 6 fifty-plus scores came at a strike rate of less than 130. In fact, even in the match that the Punjab side won against Mumbai, the match was tied, and Punjab managed to register a win in the Super Over. In short, even though Rahul scored runs, he scored them at a pace that did not help his team’s cause. And, he was criticized for the same.

KL Rahul and his redemption

But then, on 12th April 2021, Rahul redeemed himself. In the encounter against the Rajasthan Royals, Rahul played with freedom, he played with a lot of intent and played a pivotal role in his team’s victory. And with this blazing knock, Rahul has served a firm reminder to his critics that he is back to his run-scoring ways. But more importantly, he has put the strike rate question to rest.

The other teams should definitely be wary, for there might be a ‘KL Rahul’ storm that might hit them this season.