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3 Reasons why KL Rahul Should Not Open for Team India in T20Is

The performance in ICC tournaments, the main reason why KL Rahul should not open for Team India in T20Is.  

As I write this article, It still surprises me that I would be writing about a player, who has been a revolution in T20 cricket with supreme consistency. Let me be brutally honest! The term KL Rahul and Opening can actually be termed as an ‘Oxymoron’. On paper, KL Rahul is one of the best openers in T20 cricket, but if we deep-dive, he actually is not. 

KL Rahul in IPL

Firstly, let’s understand why KL Rahul is the best opener in IPL. There is no doubt about KL Rahul, the opener in IPL. The guy manages an average of 48 and a strike rate of 136 in the 3889 runs he has scored in the tournament. What’s more, he is the only player in the history of IPL to score 500+ runs every season on 5 consecutive occasions.

But is IPL or league cricket the benchmark to judge a player’s overall capabilities? Well, the answer is no. The main reason for this is that a player plays league cricket with the least pressure on him. Before they get into pressure matches, which is usually after 10-12 matches or in the knockouts, the player plays with the least pressure situation possible. 

Except for 2022, KL Rahul hardly played under any pressure in the last 5 years. Even in the Eliminator vs RCB in 2022, KL Rahul was on 65 off 50 balls while chasing 208 before ending his bizarre knock on 79 off 58 balls – Sure, he did cover up with his strike rate, but the match was already gone when KL batted for 50 odd balls with a strike rate of just 130. 

KL Rahul in T20Is

Similarly, if we talk about KL Rahul, the batter in the Bilateral T20I series, where the pressure is the least, KL Rahul has a good record overall. In the 53 Bilateral T20Is, KL Rahul has scored a total of 1769 runs at an average of 41 and a healthy strike rate of 141. 

Now, coming to the main point of KL Rahul’s performance in multi-nation T20I tournaments like the ICC World Cup, Asia Cup, etc. Here we will break down the performance analysis into two categories – vs Top teams and vs Other teams. 

Overall, KL Rahul has played a total of 13 innings in multi-nation T20I tournaments with 7 knocks against top teams and 6 knocks against other teams.  His knocks against top teams read 18(17) vs Sri Lanka, 3(8) vs Pakistan, 18(16) vs New Zealand, 0(1) vs Pakistan, 28(20) vs Pakistan, 6(7) vs Sri Lanka, and 4(8) vs Pakistan in 2022.

As you can see, KL Rahul has not scored a single good knock vs top teams in multi-nation T20Is where his team needed him the most. But as you can guess, he has compensated for that by scoring well against other teams. His six knocks read 24(14) vs Bangladesh, 69(48) vs Afghanistan, 50(19) vs Scotland, 54*(36) vs Namibia, 36(39) vs Hong Kong, and 62(41) vs Afghanistan.

Of the 13 T20Is (which is a sizable number), he has played in Multi-nation tournaments, KL Rahul has gone past fifty on four occasions, but under the least pressure situation. Unsurprisingly, not once did he contribute with the bat when India needed him the most. 

Conclusion: 

Not that KL Rahul is a bad batter. If so, he wouldn’t have been able to score these many runs with a good consistency. He is undoubtedly one of the most elegant batters in World cricket. But he is a player that goes into a shell when it comes to pressure matches. His intent has always been to block instead of attack, which takes his wicket most often than not.

Instead of facing the new ball, he could be an asset with the old ball down the order. Just like ODIs, where he has been positive and successful more as a middle-order batter, India need to take this chance if they continue to be the world leaders. If not, Team India need KL Rahul, the opener to change his approach by being more positive right from ball one against top teams.

Thanks for reading! What do you think about the performance of KL Rahul for Team India in multi-nation T20I tournaments? Please email your thoughts to cric8fanatic@gmail.com


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