Kings XI Punjab opener KL Rahul had a splendid season with the bat as he ended the 2018 edition of the franchise-based cricket league on rhe third spot in the list of top run-scorers, with Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper Kane Williamson being the leader – having played three innings more than Rahul. Although the Karnataka-born batsman couldn’t see his team qualify for the playoffs despite putting a strong effort with the bat, he was indeed happy for MS Dhoni – the returning Chennai Super Kings’ skipper – to win the title again.
Rahul revealed how much he cherishes watching Dhoni hit those powerful sixes, although they do sometimes give heart attacks to the opposition. “I always enjoy watching Mahi bhai bat on TV.. I enjoy it. The way he won matches was wonderful to see. It was great to see him back as captain and he won the IPL again,” Rahul told India Today. “That speaks highly about him as a person and a leader. Absolutely enjoyed watching him hit those sixes. He gives a lot of heart attacks to the opposition which is good to see.”
Having scored 659 runs in 14 matches himself, Rahul admitted that he was satisfied with his own performance as it was a big year for him in terms of the franchise-switch and the stage at which his career is.
“What can I say? Happy I performed well in the IPL. This was a big year for me. Every year is a big year. But it was a new franchise and it was a great experience overall. The two months we spent together – it was something very new. Coming from a different franchise was.. a very new experience,” he said.
KXIP were dominating the top-half of the points table in the first 7 league matches but saw an epic fall from grace in the last 7 matches before an eventual finish as the second-worst side in the league. Rahul, on being asked as to whether the 7-day long mid-season break resulted in them losing momentum, the 26-year-old only had the tricky nature of the format to blame.
“It’s not that we could not get back our winning momentum after the break. The T20 format was very tricky. In the second half, it was different.
The Kings XI skipper Ravichandran Ashwin drew many plaudits for his captaincy and Rahul wasn’t of a different opinion.
“Ashwin was very calm – he spent a lot of time with the bowlers. He understands what the bowlers are thinking about. It’s the same with the batsmen as well. He understands what bowlers go through after a bad day. He was very relaxed as a captain, very well balanced,” Rahul said.
Other than Rahul, if there was another batsman who impressed with the willow, it was Chris Gayle. The West Indian showed once again why he is one of the most dangerous T20 batsmen of all time after he was not being able to draw a bid in the first two rounds of IPL 2018 Auction.
“Chris Gayle an entertainer on and off the field. If he fires, no team can stop him. We are assured of a win. It was great to see him play the way he did this year. He was hungry. Our relationship from the past carried on over to the ground. Our role was to be as destructive as possible in the Powerplay,” Rahul said on Gayle.