KL Rahul has just debuted as a captain in IPL 2020 and, like Kohli in 2013, he has been batting at a different level but his team is struggling the same way like the RCB of the past.
If there is one player who can perhaps understand what Kings XI Punjab skipper KL Rahul is currently going through, it is Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli. Rahul will arguably be one of Indian batting legends in the coming future and also succeed King Kohli as the next captain.
Way back in 2013 when his IPL captaincy era began in 2013, Virat was seen as the next batting great, as well as the future captain for India. Despite Kohli’s individual brilliance with bat and being surrounded by some of the most explosive batsmen of the generation in his team, RCB mostly disappointed. Rahul has just debuted as a captain in IPL 2020 and, like Kohli in 2013, he has been batting at a different level but his team is struggling the same way like the RCB of the past.
The present could not have been more contrasting for these two players. If RCB got most (10) points jointly with Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians half way through their campaign, KXIP has been a story of miserable misses at crucial points and thus far has got the least points(2) in the table after playing half(7) of the total 14 league matches. Ironically, the only win that too by a massive margin (by 97 runs) for Rahul’s team came against RCB. “It helps to know that the only game that we have won is against RCB. So we will come in with a little bit of confidence. I have always enjoyed playing with RCB and against RCB. Looking forward to one more cracker tomorrow, Rahul told Kohli in a friendly banter during their interaction for Puma.
No longer is it raining sixes in Sharjah
Sharjah cricket stadium came into limelight as much as with some of the star players because of the bombardment of sixes it witnessed in the first three matches (33, 29, 28 sixes were hit). It forced the teams to get their combinations right specifically thinking about dimension and shorter boundaries of the stadium. Punjab is expected to include Chris Gayle for the first time in the tournament who simply loves (average of 53.50 and strike rate of 152.85) his former team RCB and it is often argued that his mis-hits can even go for a six in this ground. However, the number of sixes per match in Sharjah is now coming considerably down (21, 17, 10) in the last three matches.
“It’s going to be a cracker of a game, you guys have a great side, our team has been playing well. It's going to be in Sharjah, an entertaining ground as well,” Kohli told Rahul during that promotional event for Puma.
In other news
This game is also going to witness how the Kumble vs. Kohli round 2 goes in the IPL2020 after their first ever encounter as coach vs. captain went in favour of the former India coach. However, more than Kohli the batsman, Kumble will be worried about his entire batting unit which except for the openers (Rahul - Agarwal pair has collectively scored 724 runs) has managed only 477 runs. And last but not the least the deadly death overs dilemma will bother Punjab (around 14 runs per over) especially against RCB who have excelled in this phase (have scored nearly 12 runs per over).
Likely XI Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Aaron Finch, 2. Devdutt Padikkal, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Washington Sundar, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Isuru Udana, 9 Mohammad Siraj, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Likely XI Kings XI Punjab: 1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 KL Rahul (capt), 4 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mandeep Singh, 7 Chris Jordan, 8 M Ashwin, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Arshdeep Singh
(Vimal Kumar has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. The author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide can be reached @Vimalwa on Twitter) Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here