Rahul had a disappointing 2018 in India colours with the Karnataka-born batsman having a dismal time on the tours of England and Australia. However, the 27-year-old has bounced back into form in the ongoing 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign for KXIP and has also found a place in India’s squad for the upcoming World Cup.
In 12 IPL innings this season, Rahul has managed to score 520 runs at an average of nearly 58 with the help of one ton and four half-centuries. Gayle, who is having an excellent individual campaign himself, believes that Rahul can be India’s best long-term batting mainstay after skipper Virat Kohli.
“KL is definitely one of the players that comes to my mind (when you talk about the current India players), I hope he produces the goods like Virat. After Virat, it should be him,” Gayle was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India (PTI).
“But it is not necessary for him to put himself under that kind of pressure, he needs to be himself, stay in his zone and try not to compete with anyone.
“You have a lot of talent in India, I could go on and on and most of them don’t even get the opportunity.”
Kings XI’s hopes of making the IPL play-offs took a big beating on Monday when they were handed a 45-run defeat by Sunrisers Hyderabad. Ravi Ashwin and his men are now in sixth spot in the table with two games to play but Gayle is still confident of the side’s chances of progressing to the final four.
“Two years I have been here (KXIP) and it has been phenomenal. I love the Punjab style. I am getting to work with a great bunch of people and hopefully we can do something special for the franchise. The aim is get to the play-offs and take it from there,” the ‘Universe Boss’ stated.
Gayle and Rahul will next be in action for KXIP on Friday when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in a crunch clash.
It will be the final IPL game of the campaign for Smith who will then join up with the Australia ODI squad for its 2019 World Cup preparations. Smith and his men are currently seventh on the IPL table with 10 points and need to win both their remaining clashes – against RCB and Delhi Capitals – to have any chance of making the play-offs.
“It is important for us to win the last two games to give us any chance to qualify for playoffs. I hope the boys would get over the line tomorrow and defeat Delhi Capitals thereafter,” Smith said on the eve of the clash.
The Rajasthan skipper was full of praise for leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal who has been a revelation for the franchise this season. The Karnataka-born spinner has picked up 15 wickets from his 12 outings so far and is in fifth spot in the IPL 2019 wicket-taking charts.
“He has been terrific for us. Every time we have given him the ball, he has done the job for us. He has taken big wickets. He has varied skill sets. He bowls googlies, sliders and mixes things up,” said Smith.
Shreyas Gopal Wickets In 2019 IPL— CricBeat (@Cric_beat) April 27, 2019
All are Top order Batsman!#RRvsSRH
“Also, his batting is under-rated. He has come in and played some very handy cameos at the end. He has also taken good catches. His package of cricket has been huge for us,” he added.
Smith returned to the IPL after a one-year absence following his involvement in the infamous ball-tampering saga which occurred in Cape Town and has managed to register three half-centuries in 11 innings on his comeback.
As he now prepares to return to the Australia squad after more than a year, Smith believes his IPL stint will hold him in good stead to prepare for the rigours of 50-over cricket.
“Personally for me, playing IPL is to spend some time in the middle to take on quality opposition and best players,” he stated.
“I think T20 cricket almost prepares you well for 50 overs cricket. It is an extended version of T20 cricket, the way it has been played in the last two years,” he added.
It was the last game of the IPL season for Australia star batsman David Warner and he made it count with another authoritative innings as his 81 laid the foundations for a thumping 45-run win over Kings XI Punjab on Monday.
Sunrisers batted first in great batting conditions at home and blasted their way to 212-6 with Warner hitting seven fours and two sixes during his 56-ball knock. In reply, Kings XI could only muster 167-8 as the Sunrisers secured their sixth win of the season.
And that's the last time David Warner was out there for us this season!— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) April 29, 2019
A magnificent 81 in his last match, kisses the bat and goes back with a standing ovation from the entire stadium! 🧡🧡
Thank you, @davidwarner31! #OrangeArmy #RiseWithUs #SRHvKXIP
Sunrisers’ talisman Warner was playing his final game of the season before joining the Australian team for their World Cup preparations. Having crossed the 600 run mark already, the southpaw was looking for one final flourish.
Teaming up with keeper Wriddhiman Saha – who was especially aggressive during his 13-ball 28 – at the top, Warner controlled the innings with his ninth fifty-plus score of the season.
Mohammad Nabi earned a promotion as Sunrisers looked to breach the 200-run mark and the Afghan all-rounder delivered with 20 off 10 balls as Hyderabad posted 212-6.
Kings XI Punjab spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman had a disastrous outing as he was spanked for five fours and four sixes in his four overs that went for 66 runs – the second worst bowling effort in the history of the IPL.
KL Rahul's scores while chasing in IPL, from last season onwards:— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) April 29, 2019
10 50s in 13 inns.
801 runs at ave 89 and SR 151.99
No batsman has scored that many runs and fifties while chasing in the last 2 seasons. #SRHvKXIP
Rahul’s strange knock
KL Rahul was the only Punjab batsman who showed some urgency but even that came way too late in the innings. At one stage of the chase, Rahul was batting on 39 off 36 balls and with Chris Gayle already back in the hut after top edging left-arm quick Khaleel Ahmed, the pressure fell on the rest of the batting to keep up with the asking rate.
When Rahul was batting on 38 off 35 balls after 11 overs, Punjab needed 117 from 54 balls. The visitors were way behind the asking rate and even though the opening batsman made up for it towards the latter half of the innings, it was never going to be enough.
Nicholas Pooran tried to inject some life into the innings but his brief stay ended at 21 off 10 balls.
For Sunrisers, star leg-spinner Rashid Khan ended up with 3-21 and was on a hat-trick at one stage.
Sunrisers Hyderabad are making the right moves just when it matters while Kings XI are losing their way at a critical juncture. It was the third defeat in a row for Punjab and seventh overall, which has pushed them closer to the exit.
Punjab possess two star bowlers in captain Ravi Ashwin and Mohammed Shami and nothing much else, which has cost them big time.