It mist have been difficult to be KL Rahul during the initial stage of the league phase in IPL 2020. The stylish batsman was leading an IPL side for the first time and doing almost everything right as a batsman. His efforts as a wicket-keeper were an added bonus for his team and there wasn’t much to find fault with his captaincy too. Yet, Kings XI Punjab, his team, was finding different ways to lose matches.
His team lost their opening match in a super over. But Rahul took matters in his hand and stroked a fluent century against Royal Challengers Bangalore to get the season going for his team. He took over the leadership in the Orange Cap table – most runs in the season – and continues to be on top till now.
But his performance with the bat weren’t enough to stop his team from lost 5 matches on the trot. After 7 matches, which was the half-way stage in the league phase, KXIP were rock bottom with just 2 points and almost everyone considered the campaign doomed.
But Rahul and his coach Anil Kumble didn’t. They rank in important changes in the team, kept the adrenaline pumping and what started a rearguard, which is now threatening to end with a place in the play-offs. KXIP take on KKR in a crucial encounter on Monday as the winner of the match will end up occupying the fourth place in the points.
The Kings have won four matches on the trot, which includes victories against all highly fancied sides. Former India captain and veteran commentator Sunil Gavaskar feels this has been possible due to the fighting spirit of KXIP coach and former India great Anil Kumble.
Speaking exclusively on Star Sports show Cricket Live, Gavaskar praised KL Rahul for his captaincy and spoke on how Anil Kumble is a fighter and how his spirit has been transferred to KXIP.
“You know, they have just found the winning way! They seem to have lost that at the start of the tournament. Remember, every time they were close to winning and they went into the super over in their first-ever game and then again, after that they were losing in the final overs.
“Then, somewhere down the line, they found that key, that takes them to a win and the last few games, they have played exceptional cricket. Last match, to defend a 126 takes a lot of doing, takes a lot of self-belief and that’s what they showed,” the Indian cricket legend opined.
He gave a lot of credit to Rahul and Kumble for the turnaround in KXIP’s fortunes.
“They have been brilliantly led by KL Rahul. KL Rahul has grown into the captaincy role, and though he didn’t score as many as he normally does, he made sure, with his field placing, with his bowling changes, even giving Chris Jordan that 19th over and then trusting Arshdeep to defend 14 in the final over is fantastic.
“Do not forget the role of Anil Kumble! Anil Kumble has been a fighter all his cricketing career, you could see when he went out with a broken jaw and bowled, and that sprit is seen in the KXIP. That is the reason why they have comeback from impossible situations and are now in the hunt for the place in the playoffs,” he said