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'Captaincy matters a lot in a T20 game'

By HARISH KOTIAN
August 21, 2020 18:53 IST
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'T20 is so fast-paced that a coach can do very little from the sidelines, you need a very good captain, who can take decisions there and then.'

KL Rahul

IMAGE: K L Rahul, who will captain Kings XI Punjab this year. Photograph: BCCI
 

The Indian Premier League gave K L Rahul's career a fresh lease of life.

The Karnataka batsman's smashing performances with the bat for Kings XI Punjab in 2018 -- when he scored 659 runs in 14 matches with six half-centuries -- saw him make a comeback to the Indian team.

Rahul hasn't looked back since, not only dominating the bowlers in international cricket in the last two years. He also enjoyed another excellent run in last year's IPL with 593 runs, laced with six fities and a century.

Encouraged by his consistent showing, Kings XI rewarded the talented right-hander with the captaincy for this year's IPL.

Kings XI Punjab's Batting Coach Wasim Jaffer tells Rediff.com's Harish Kotian why Rahul is the perfect choice as captain. The second segment of a multi-part interview:

Kings XI Punjab will have a new coaching set-up this year, including a new captain in K L Rahul. Do you believe he can make an impact?

Rahul should be able to do well, there is no doubt about it because he is quite a stable guy. He has been around, has played so many IPLs, so he knows how to go about it. He led in a few games last year.

He is probably one of the most important members of our team. He carries the batting of Kings XI Punjab, he keeps wickets. And being behind the stumps will also help him.

Importantly, he has got a sound temperament. He has been around in the Indian set-up, he has played with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he has played with Virat Kohli and he has played in so many IPLs so I don't think it will be a huge problem for him to captain Kings XI. A lot of other people are also there to help him, so it looks good.

Kings XI Punjab's batting looks formidable with players like Rahul, Chris Gayle, Glenn Maxwell, Nicholas Pooran, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and Sarfaraz Khan among others. Will they make an impact in the UAE conditions which could be different from India?

I would say our batting and our bowling both are quite effective, we have a balanced team. I don't think the IPL is all about having a strong batting or strong bowling, it is all about momentum, it is all about doing well in critical moments of the game.

T20 cricket is so difficult because at times you win or lose by the narrowest of margins like one run or two runs, or by one wicket or two wickets.

Those 3-4 narrow wins make a lot of difference, so I feel if you play well as a team, if you win those close games and you have the momentum, then only you win those moments in close games.

I think this will happen for us this season.

And talking about the wickets, it will be a typical sub-continental wicket wherein the par score will be around 160-170.

If you recall when the IPL was previously held in the UAE in 2014, you had scores in the range of 160-180.

It will be pretty much similar this time, but it will also depend on how the weather will be around that time.

Again, you have only 3-4 grounds in UAE for the IPL matches, so the wickets will get slower and slower as the tournament progresses.

So the spinners can be expected to play a bigger role in the latter stages of the tournament?

We have got good spin options, we have Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, (Krishnappa) Gowtham and (Jagadeesha) Suchith... so we are well equipped in the spin department.

More importantly, as I said before, we need to have the momentum as a team which will help us carry forward in the tournament.

If you look at the most successful teams in the history of the IPL like the Mumbai Indians or CSK, they are probably not as strong as some of the other teams in the tournament, but they have good captains and they will win critical moments in the game and that is why are consistent.

I believe captaincy matters a lot in a T20 game.

T20 is so fast-paced that a coach can do very little from the sidelines. You need a very good captain, who can take decisions there and then.

K L Rahul fits that bill in my opinion.

In a Test match or an ODI, you have time and the coach can also pass some message or some information, but in T20 cricket you don't have that much time so the captain plays a very important role and he has to take all the decisions himself.

Why captains like Dhoni or Rohit have been successful because in tight situations they go with their instinct and take decisions, which turn out to be successful.

So if you see, they win most tight games and I feel Rahul fits that bill.

Jasprit Bumrah

IMAGE: Mumbai Indians fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah during the IPL last year. Photograph: BCCI

Has the attitude of Indian players changed since the introduction of the IPL in terms of fitness and other things like skill and temperament?

The youngsters now look forward to the IPL, they give priority to the IPL and there is nothing wrong in it.

First of all, there is so much money involved and you get such a big stage to perform.

You come up with 3-4 good performances and it can take you anywhere, maybe you can make it to the Indian T20 team or the ODI team.

There is nothing wrong if they give priority to the IPL as long as they don't neglect the other formats.

I am fine if they (the players) give priority to the IPL. Some players also miss a few domestic games prior to the IPL, which is understandable because they don't want to get injured ahead of such a big tournament, with so much money at stake and with so much in their careers at stake.

If you see players like Jasprit Bumrah or Hardik Pandya or Yuzvendra Chahal, they wouldn't have played for India if they hadn't played in the IPL.

Nowadays you need to be at the peak of your fitness at all times, or else you get found out.

So many people are watching the games, there is so much money at stake, and then there is social media where you face a lot of trolling.

So you need to be at the top of your game at all times because if you fail in one or two games then people come after you.

You may not give it importance, but it sort of creates a certain image about you so you have to be top of your game when it comes to fitness and skill.

There is so much of competition nowadays. The fielding standards have improved so much. With the bowling too, you need a lot of variations to be effective and in batting you need to bat at a certain strike rate.

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