I think strike rate is very, very overrated. For me, it is only about how I can win games for my team, and on a certain day if hitting 120 can win a game for my team, then I will do that. “This is how I bat, and I like to take responsibility.”

Yes, this statement came after his side lost the match by a huge margin of 69 runs in a chase of 202! 

This statement seemed to be his bruising aside from the criticism he was facing for his sedate approach at the top. 

But no one has any idea that a player who holds the record for the fastest 50 in the IPL in just 14 balls was not only saying those words but was going to implement them on another level. 

This statement was coming from a player who, after that blistering knock, was heard saying, “For years, I’ve been branded a Test cricketer,” Rahul said. “It’s good for me to be up there, creating history and breaking records.” “I hope to continue this way.”

He was the player who wanted to break the shackles of being typecast as a test specialist and remoulded his game for the shortest format of the game. 
Rahul was nothing short of a revelation in that phase of his career, as he not only scored mounds of runs but did so at a considerably quick SR of 146.5 in 2016, where he batted in the middle order, and 158.4 while opening in 2018.

But now, come to the present scenario

KL Rahul of 2023 is happy to play a 20-ball, 18-run inning in a chase of 213, pushing the other batsman to score the remaining 195 runs in 100 deliveries with an asking rate of around 12, which was less than 11 initially.

In this IPL, he is batting at a SR of 114.8, which is by no means an ideal SR for an opener, especially when he gets the chance to use the field restrictions in the powerplay. 

If not for his 74 off 56 deliveries, then his SR would further reduce to a paltry 106.19, which tells you how slow he has been operating this season. 
And if we talk about his powerplay numbers this season, then these numbers would make you scratch your head, as how can a player who has a wide range of shots in his repertoire struggle this much in this phase of the game?

He has been batting at a timid SR of 109.2 in IPL 2023, putting extra pressure on the rest of the batsmen to propel the team’s total to a formidable one. 

If not for Kyle Mayers’s brilliance in powerplay, who has been going at 142.3 LSG, he would have struggled big time in the table.

If you’re thinking that he has taken this route of batting this season only, then this has been the case since 2019, just after the IPL 2018, where he established himself as a destructive opener who can rattle any kind of bowling attack while playing proper cricketing shots. 

He was then counted among the best T20 openers, alongside Jos Buttler and Jason Roy.  Just look at his T20 international numbers in 2016–18, and you will know why this version of Rahul is getting so much flak for his slow approach. 

Rahul T20I numbers in 2016-18

Jos Buttler

KL Rahul

Jason Roy













If you observe that he was miles ahead of his contemporaries in every aspect during this phase and was rightly touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket.

Even if we see his IPL numbers during this phase, the numbers were outstanding, to say the least. 

Rahul IPL numbers in 2016-18
















His powerplay batting was almost identical to his overall exploits these seasons, as he used to strike out at 140.5 and 157.6 in 2016 and 2018, respectively. 

But things started going downhill after that, and his SR never touched 130 in the Powerplay, which means that he chose to play the anchor role predominantly in his captaincy stint for the Punjab Kings and later the Lucknow Super Giants. 

It’s not a bad thing to anchor the innings and play the bridge role between the enforcers. When it came off, as a batsman, you did manage to cover up for your SR, but it looks ugly if it doesn’t come off and you play out 20–30 balls for a run-a-ball innings, then the team more often than not remains 15-20 runs short of ideal or sometimes even par total.

Teams that had at least one batsman face 20+ deliveries and end with a SR of 145–155 averaged 170 batting first since 2018, regardless of how many runs that batsman had at 20 deliveries.

The path to the 145–155 SR doesn’t change the total. However, catching up from a slower start rarely works. 

(a) The batsmen don’t survive long enough most of the time.

In the process of anchoring the innings, you tend to consume deliveries, which of course depends on many factors such as match-ups, protecting your partner from his unfavourable match-ups, and match situations.

But sometimes batsmen tend to go into a shell, prompting others to take more risks, or sometimes they break their own shackles and try to take more risks, losing their wickets even before making amends for their consumed deliveries.

(b)  The final SR is usually determined by the SR after 10–20 deliveries.

You can say that if a batsman, after playing a run-a-ball innings, initially makes up for his SR, but that overall SR doesn’t affect the scorecard that much, it’s comparable to a batsman batting with the same high SR throughout his innings for the same number of deliveries. 

Considering these factors, if we analyse Rahul’s approach, he is pegbacking his team’s total with his sedate batting mindset. 
His batting can come in handy on pitches where 130–140 runs are enough. But on a placid batting track, his batting will look out of context with the game. 

It will take Stoinis and Pooran’s kind of madness (like they did against RCB to pull off a heist) to match the opponents’ boundary-hitting prowess in every match. 

But this is not how cricket is played.

Rahul has the potential to be an outrageously badass opener, even on par with Jos Buttler, but he chooses to be the mercurially timid Babar Azam in T20 cricket.