Team India star opener KL Rahul has struggled since returning to international cricket after a groin injury. In the recently concluded T20 World Cup, Rahul had inconsistent performances for the side, scoring 128 runs in six innings with a strike rate of nearly 120. Rahul was widely criticized by both fans and former cricketers for his indifferent performance during the tournament, as India was defeated in eliminated in the semi-finals by eventual champions England.
Among other things, Rahul was mainly criticized for his conservative start. On two occasions, the right-handed opener made a first appearance in the T20 World Cup (against South Africa and Zimbabwe). However, former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson believes Rahul is “at his best” when he is not playing conservative cricket.
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Interestingly, Rahul made a name for himself as an explosive batsman in his early years in T20 cricket and he also proved it in the 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League where he scored 659 runs in 14 matches with a staggering batting percentage of 158.41 for the Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings). Ahead of the 2019 edition, he was named captain of the franchise and while Rahul stayed between runs, his strike rate took a serious hit. During the next three years for the franchise, Rahul had pass rates of 135.36, 129.34 and 138.80 respectively.
In the last season in which he was acquired by the Lucknow Super Giants, Rahul had another impressive season with the bat scoring 616 runs but had a strike rate of 135.38.
Watson thinks Rahul should put the pressure back on the bowlers.
“What I would like to say specifically to KL Rahul is that he is at his best when he just takes the game. Not trying to switch up the offense or be a little more defensive,” Watson said The Cricket Month.
“If he hits purely on instinct and puts a lot of pressure on the bowler, because he just has every shot in the book – wherever they bowl, he can just hit that ball for a six or a boundary. If KL is a bit more defensive in his mind then like all batters you are a lot more susceptible to being exposed,” the former Australian all-rounder continued.