Former India batter Sanjay Manjrekar pointed out that teams, irrespective of IPL or international cricket, can benefit immensely if opener K.L Rahul bats “quicker rather than longer.”
On Wednesday, Rahul top-scored with 79 off 58 balls in Lucknow Super Giants’ chase of 208 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 2022 Eliminator at the Eden Gardens. But he fell in the 19th over to Josh Hazlewood, which proved to be decisive in Lucknow falling short by 14 runs and crashing out of the tournament.
Rahul was at 26 off 17 balls at the end of power-play and moved to 48 off 42 balls till 99 runs were needed off the last seven overs. From there, Rahul accelerated to 79 off 58 balls at a strike rate of 136 but it was not enough to carry Lucknow to Qualifier 2. Questions have been raised over how Rahul;s slowdown post-powerplay affects teams.
“K.L Rahul himself has the ability to do that. You see every time he decided to play the big shot, it came off. He played a couple of terrific shots against (Josh) Hazelwood. He can do it when he wants to but he just has this very deep-rooted belief, or an attitude, or an approach, that he wants to bat longer rather than quicker,” said Manjrekar on the T20 Time-Out show on ESPNCricinfo.
“If I was his coach, I would just take that decision out of his hand even if he’s the captain, for we’ve seen a lot of games where the teams would benefit immensely if K.L Rahul just batted quicker rather than longer,” added Manjrekar.
Manjrekar further remarked that Rahul is “temperamentally not suited” for the responsibility of being the main batter in the side, especially when he is captaining in the IPL, something which someone like MS Dhoni or Virat Kohli have done with aplomb.
Though Rahul has amassed more than 550 runs in every edition of IPL since 2018, his strike rate from 2019 till 2022 has been: – 135.38, 129.34, 138.80 and 135.38, which is low as compared to his strike rate of 142.49 for India.
“We;ve seen enough of KL Rahul to now know that when he becomes this player, the captain, the key player of the side I mean Virat Kohli loves that kind of responsibility. Dhoni loved it. I think Rohit Sharma, barring this season, generally likes that kind of responsibility.”
“Maybe K.L Rahul temperamentally is not suited to take this kind of responsibility where he is the man who has got to get the job done. They are just made of different mettle and maybe K.L Rahul isn’t.”
Manjrekar signed off by advising Rahul to have fun and express himself while batting, instead of taking the burden of winning matches single-handedly. “As a coach, I would drill that into his head to tell him that I’m not expecting you to win the game.”
“You just go and have fun, and funnily enough, you’ll see the results start coming and that’s why I believe he has a much better strike rate at the international level rather than at the IPL level because he’s just one of the many batters. He’s playing alongside Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma and the others, so he just goes out there and expresses himself.”