It has been a season of mixed emotions for KL Rahul. Handed the leadership role of a franchise for the entire season for the first time in his career, few veterans and analysts have expressed eagerness in keenly watching Rahul and KXIP's progress in IPL 2020, while backing him as Virat Kohli's successor. Rahul of late has emerged as a limited-overs star for Indian cricket team and many have even backed him to continue with the form in IPL as well despite the long pandemic-forced break. And Rahul did. He is presently the leading run-getter this season after 21 matches in IPL 2020 with 302 runs in five innings at 75.20. His scores include two half-centuries and a blistering 132 off 69 against his former franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore. Yet, KXIP stand in the bottom end of the points table with just one win from five matches.
Despite the magnificent average and run-tally, Rahul's batting has posed as an issue for KXIP. And it was vastly visible in his 52-ball 63, implying a scoring rate of 7.27 runs per over. His partner Mayank Agarwal, although scoring 26 off 19, went at a rate of 8.21 runs per over, while the rest of his teammates scored at 9.79 runs per over. The two opposition openers from Chennai Super Kings went at 9.39 (Shane Watson) and 9.84 (Faf du Plessis) runs per over in the same game.
What has caused the criticism is the drop in his scoring from the powerplays to the middle overs. Again, the CSK game exemplifies the issues. He was 24 off 21 at the end of the powerplay at a strike rate of 114.3. He was 46 off 44 at the end of the 14th over. And this has been the issue for Rahul in IPL 2020, barring that RCB game when his scoring rate was truly blistering.
KL Rahul's scoring rate in IPL 2020...
|vs Team||Powerplay||7 to 12||Diff in SR|
|Royal Challengers Bangalore||7.66||8.1||0.44|
|Chennai Super Kings||6.86||5.25||-1.61|
Except for that RCB game, his scoring rate has fallen on each of the last three matches over the next five overs resulting in more pressure on the remaining batting lineup.
Anchor batters have always been a topic of debate in T20 cricket. Rahul, from what it seems, have been playing the role of an anchor for KXIP. But overconsumption of deliveries for fewer runs results in underutilisation or addition of more pressure or on the middle order that comprises of promising hitters of the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Nicholas Pooran, and Sarfaraz Khan. If Rahul, and he definitely does from what we have seen in the last few months, does go deep into the innings for KXIP, he will have to increase his run rate and look for more aggressive shots than acting as an anchor which could in turn provide bowlers with more runs to defend, especially given their death-over numbers with the ball.