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IPL 2023: KL Rahul still accumulating runs but at a really sluggish strike rate

IPL 2023: KL Rahul still accumulating runs but at a really sluggish strike rate. KL Rahul has scored 262 runs from 7 games at a strike rate of 113.91.

KL Rahul having a very poor IPL 2023 in comparison to previous years _ Walking wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
Rahul has 262 runs from 7 games at a SR of 113.91 (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)

KL Rahul is one of the most intriguing batters in recent times. He is vastly talented and should have reached greater heights than what he has done till this point in his near decade long career at the highest level both in IPL as well as in the international arena, more so in the latter.

Questions not on the quantum of runs scored by Rahul but the manner of accumulation

The reason why most of the critics and viewers are this harsh and coming down hard on Rahul is the fact he is not fulfilling the great potential that he has. The Lucknow Super Giants skipper’s performance in the ongoing IPL is a great example on not doing justice to the abundance of talent that he possesses as a batter.

Rahul has maintained an incredible consistency as far as run scoring is concerned in IPL cricket. In fact, since 2018 Rahul has amassed 600 plus runs every single season apart from 2019 where he just missed out on the mark by scoring 593 which is still monumental.

So, on the run-making front, no one questions his ability and he can be termed as a run-machine in that way. But the method which he takes to accumulate those runs is what is bothering many people who are following his game closely. In IPL 2023, LSG led by KL Rahul have played 7 games and won 4 of those and currently stand second in the points table. As a team they have a strong unit and are doing well in their second season.

But as a player, KL Rahul has been a disappointment. Despite scoring 262 runs in the season with a couple of fifty-plus scores and standing 4th in the orange cap list, his strike rate reads an abysmal 113.91 which is very less for a top-order batter in this day and age.

This slow innings progress of his has put a lot of pressure on the batters to come. There are 2 instances in this IPL where Rahul’s circumspect knocks have caused unwanted pressure on the other batters.

Rahul’s slow innings cost LSG a game against GT

In the game against RCB at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Rahul played at a strike rate of 90 (18 off 20) in the team’s 213-run chase. Though LSG won that contest, his style of play to start slow and play an aggressive innings at the end didn’t work that time. It was due to breathtaking hitting from the duo of Nicholas Pooran and Marcus Stoinis that LSG were able to scamper through in the chase successfully on the last ball of the match.

However, in the recent contest against Gujarat Titans, LSG were not lucky enough. Playing on a slow and tough batting surface in Lucknow, GT gave them a target of 136 which was achievable at that sort of a wicket. Rahul though playing out a first over maiden, picked up pace and at one stage it looked like LSG will win the game rather easily. Rahul played his best knock yet in this IPL on a tough surface and even reached his half-century in only 38 deliveries, which was really good in the context of the game. But post that, Rahul for some reason slowed down and LSG lost from a position where they required 30 off 33 balls with 8 wickets in hand by 7 runs. The right-hander ended with a 61-ball 68. This is one of those losses that will be hard to digest if you are a LSG fan and more so an admirer of Rahul’s immense talent.

Rahul has stuck to this style of play where he would take time and attack during his time as Punjab Kings captain. But while leading a side like Lucknow Super Giants which reached playoffs last season and have the likes of Kyle Mayers, Deepak Hooda, Pooran, Stonis and Krunal Pandya in the lineup after him and a player of the calibre of Quinton de Kock in the bench, Rahul can be much more aggressive at the top of the order.

This approach is taking him nowhere and is putting undue pressure on the rest of the line up.

Why is this happening with Rahul? Is this a tactical approach or is he low on confidence?

The answer to this is unfortunately the latter. As mentioned earlier, it is not that Lucknow possess a weak batting line up. In fact, it is one of the strongest and a lethal batting order when in full flow. So, the recent events with respect to Rahul’s career in India colours may have led to this slump. Rahul looks low on confidence and reason could be his recent ouster from the Test team as well as the national T20I team.

Youngster Shubman Gill replaced him in both the formats as an opener in recent months and the only format where Rahul is a consistent feature is the ODIs.

This is a case of him wanting to take the game deep and winning the game on his own, thus regaining his lost confidence. It happened quite a lot of times in the past with him in IPL but sadly the 2023 edition has not been kind to him in this aspect.

However, on the upside, Rahul is in decent form and there are 7 more league games for him to show his true class and regain his lost confidence.

Who knows this whole episode could be the introspection that the right-hander badly needed and we could hopefully see the second coming of Rahul, the aggressive batter.

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