Former Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who has recently been appointed as the head coach of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kings XI Punjab for the impending IPL season next year, reckons that out-of-favour Test batsman KL Rahul is still a good T20I batsman and that he wants him to notch up match-winning performances in the format.
Kumble was appointed as the head coach and as director of cricket operations at KXIP earlier last week after the team had parted ways with Mike Hesson post IPL 2019. Former Indian cricketer Sunil Joshi was picked as the assistant coach, South African legend Jonty Rhodes as fielding coach while Windies great Courtney Walsh has been given a dual role - bowling coach and talent scout. Meanwhile, former KXIP skipper George Bailey has been roped in as their batting coach.
In an exclusive interaction with India TV, former Indian skipper said that winning the elusive IPL trophy will be their main motive.
“I am happy that I have been given another chance to work with young players. My only hope or target is do what has not been done over that last 12 years at Kings XI Punjab - which is winning the trophy and we all want that,” said Kumble, who has previously been associated with IPL as chief mentor of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians.
On being asked about Rahul, who has been in an impressive form for KXIP since being roped in two seasons back, Kumble was full of praise for the batsman and expects him to once again play for India in all the three formats.
“KL is a big player and I hope he gets another opportunity to play for India in all the three formats. I personally feel he is still a very good T20I player, even for India. And I hope he continues with his form and converts it into match-winning performances,” said Kumble, who has also been the head coach of the Indian cricket team before Ravi Shastri.
After a mediocre run with RCB, Rahul shifted base to KXIP in 2018 for whom he scored 659 runs in 14 matches in the tenth season and amassed 593 runs in the next season with one century and six fifties.
On a lighter note, Kumble also hopes that he would be able to speak in Punjabi by the end of IPL 2020. “I have a lot of memorable moments in Mohali. And I might have to learn a bit of Punjabi. When I was in the Indian team, I learned a bit from Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh), but I feel by the end of the IPL season I will hopefully be able to construct a Punjabi sentence.”
(With inputs from India TV Sports Correspondent Vaibhav Bhola)