'When he is defensive in his mind...': Australia great warns KL Rahul against 'being exposed' in hard-hitting verdict

Published on Nov 29, 2022 05:03 PM IST

Indian opener KL Rahul had a rough outing in the recently-concluded T20 World Cup, and faced significant criticism over his conservative approach.

KL Rahul(AP)
KL Rahul(AP)

Team India's star opener KL Rahul is enduring a rough patch since his return to international cricket after the groin injury. In the recently-concluded T20 World Cup, Rahul had inconsistent outings for the side, scoring 128 runs in six innings with a strike rate of nearly 120. Rahul faced significant criticism from fans and former cricketers alike for his indifferent performances throughout the tournament, as India were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual champions England.

Among many things, Rahul was primarily criticised for his conservative starts. On two occasions, the right-handed opener played out a maiden first over in the T20 World Cup (against South Africa and Zimbabwe). Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson, however, believes that Rahul is “at his best” when he is not playing a conservative brand of cricket.

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Interestingly, in his initial years in T20 cricket, Rahul made his name for being an explosive batter and proved as much in the 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League, where he scored 659 runs in 14 matches at a staggering strike rate of 158.41 for the Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings). Ahead of the 2019 edition, he was named the captain of the franchise and while Rahul remained among the runs, his strike rate took a significant hit. Over the next three years for the franchise, Rahul had strike rates of 135.36, 129.34, and 138.80 respectively.

In the last season where he was acquired by the Lucknow Super Giants, Rahul enjoyed another impressive season with the bat scoring 616 runs, but had a strike rate of 135.38.

Watson believes Rahul needs to put the pressure back on the bowlers.

“The thing I'd say, just specifically to KL Rahul - he's at his best when he's just taking the game on. Not trying to just rotate strike or being a bit more defensive,” Watson told The Cricket Monthly.

When he's batting purely on instinct and putting a lot of pressure on the bowler, because he's just got every shot in the book - wherever they bowl it, he can just hit that ball for a six or a boundary. When KL's a little bit more defensive in his mind, that's when, like all batters, you're a lot more susceptible to being exposed,” the former Australia all-rounder further said.

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