KL Rahul, the versatile Indian cricketer, has carved a unique niche for himself in the Indian cricketing landscape. Known primarily as an opener, Rahul’s ability to adapt and excel in the middle order has made him a valuable asset to the Indian cricket team. In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into what makes KL Rahul a different beast in the middle order and how he has evolved as a match-winner for India.
Versatility in the Middle Order
KL Rahul’s journey in the Indian cricket team has been marked by versatility and adaptability. He has seamlessly transitioned from being an opening batsman to taking on the role of a middle-order anchor. This adaptability is one of the key factors that sets him apart.
The Key Reasons
1. Perfect Foil for the Top Order
One of the standout features of KL Rahul in the middle order is his ability to serve as the perfect foil for India’s vaunted top order. While India boasts a top order filled with heavyweights like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, Rahul slots in perfectly between them and the lower-order batsmen. He provides stability in case of early wickets while also possessing the capability to rotate the strike briskly and accelerate the scoring when needed.
2. Consistent Support from Team Management
KL Rahul’s international career has seen its share of ups and downs, but one constant has been the unwavering support he has received from the team management. They have entrusted him with different positions and roles across formats, allowing him to showcase his versatility and talent.
3. Recent Success
In recent times, KL Rahul’s career seems to have found a new gear. Following a three-month injury layoff after the IPL, he returned to the Indian team and made an immediate impact. Notably, he played a pivotal role in India’s success in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.
A Resurgent Rahul
Rahul made a resounding comeback, initially starting the tournament on the bench. However, an injury to Shreyas Iyer opened up a middle-order spot, which Rahul seized with finesse. His performances in the Super Fours, including an unbeaten 111 against Pakistan and three sparkling fifties, emphasized his class and adaptability.
4. Dual Role as a Wicketkeeper
While Rahul has not been a regular wicketkeeper for most of his international career, he has performed commendably behind the stumps when required. This dual role has been instrumental in filling the void left by the absence of Rishabh Pant in the 50-over format.
KL Rahul’s transformation into a formidable middle-order batter was initially witnessed in an India-Australia ODI in Rajkot in January 2020. On this day, he showcased his prowess by deflating a near full-strength Australian lineup with a stunning onslaught.
A Match-Winning Performance
In that particular ODI, Rahul played the dual role of an international wicketkeeper and a number-five batter for the first time. He finished with a remarkable 52-ball 80, a stumping, and two catches, earning him the Player of the Match title.
The Middle-Order Dynamo
Rahul’s ability to perform under pressure and adapt to different roles in the middle order has been one of the defining aspects of his career. He no longer plays the traditional opener’s game but has evolved into a middle-order dynamo with the capability to accelerate and stabilize innings as needed.
Rahul’s Remarkable Averages
Rahul’s statistics in the middle order speak volumes about his impact on the team. Here is a statistical breakdown of his performances:
|Position||Innings||Runs||Average||Strike Rate||Highest Score||100s||50s||4s||6s|
|At no. 4 and 5 since 2020||29||1326||66.3||95.67||112||3||10||98||39|
Notably, Rahul’s average of 66.3 while batting at positions four and five since 2020 is the highest in the given period for a minimum of 700 runs scored. This showcases his consistency and ability to perform in the middle order.
Dominance in the Middle Overs
Rahul’s dominance extends to the middle overs (11-40) since 2020. While nine players have scored more runs in this phase among middle-order (positions four to seven) batters, Rahul boasts the highest average at 84.90. He has accumulated 934 runs from 1086 deliveries in this phase with a strike rate of 86.
Death Overs Specialist
In the death overs (41-50), Rahul’s scoring frequency soars to a staggering 151.08 runs per 100 balls. He has amassed 349 runs with 25 fours and 16 sixes from 14 innings in this phase, ranking second only to Aiden Markram among World Cup batters.
Consistency Over the Years
Rahul’s contributions in the middle order have been consistently remarkable. In 27 innings at positions four and five since 2020, he has scored 55.55% (1326) of his career runs (2388), making him one of India’s best middle-order batters in recent years.
Leading the Pack
With three centuries to his name, Rahul has scored the most hundreds for India in the middle order. He also boasts the best average among the three batters who have scored 1000-plus runs at these positions in the given period, the other two being MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina.
India’s Leading Run-Scorers at no. 4-5 since 2012
A New Phase of Success
While Rahul’s contributions in the middle order have faced contrasting fortunes from 2020 up until 2023, his performances in crucial situations have gained leverage this year. Six of his fifty-plus scores in this period resulted in Indian victories, with three of them coming when the side lost early wickets in the PowerPlay.
With the support of players like Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya in the middle order, KL Rahul carries the weight of India’s hopes and aspirations in limited-overs cricket. As the 50-over World Cup approaches, he will aim to continue his exceptional work and lead India to glory, both on and off the field.
KL Rahul – A Match-Winner
In conclusion, KL Rahul’s transformation into a match-winner in the middle order is a testament to his versatility, adaptability, and unwavering commitment to the team’s cause. He is no longer the traditional opener but a vital cog in India’s middle order, ready to seize opportunities and steer the team to victory.
KL Rahul’s Middle-Order Heroics: Match-by-Match Performance Since 2020
|Match Details||Score and Performance||Match Result|
|IND vs AUS, 1st||198/3 (32.4) – Rahul 80 (52)||WON|
|IND vs NZ, 1st||156/3 (28.4) – Rahul 88* (64)||LOST|
|IND vs NZ, 2nd||57/3 (9.4) – Rahul 4 (8)||LOST|
|IND vs NZ, 1st||62/3 (12.1) – Rahul 112 (113)||LOST|
|IND vs AUS, 2nd||80/3 (9.5) – Rahul 12 (15)||LOST|
|IND vs AUS, 2nd||153/3 (23.1) – Rahul 76 (66)||LOST|
|IND vs AUS, 1st||114/3 (22.4) – Rahul 5 (11)||WON|
|IND vs ENG, 1st||187/3 (34.5) – Rahul 62* (43)||WON|
|IND vs ENG, 1st||37/2 (8.4) – Rahul 108 (114)||LOST|
|IND vs ENG, 1st||157/4 (24.2) – Rahul 7 (18)||WON|
|IND vs WI, 1st||39/2 (11.1) – Rahul 49 (48)||WON|
|IND vs BAN, 1st||49/3 (10.4) – Rahul 73 (70)||LOST|
|IND vs BAN, 2nd||39/3 (9.6) – Rahul 14 (28)||LOST|
|IND vs BAN, 1st||320/3 (38.1) – Rahul 8 (10)||WON|
|IND vs SL, 1st||213/3 (29.1) – Rahul 39 (29)||WON|
|IND vs SL, 2nd||62/3 (9.3) – Rahul 64* (103)||WON|
|IND vs SL, 1st||334/3 (45.3) – Rahul 7 (6)||WON|
|IND vs AUS, 2nd||16/3 (4.6) – Rahul 75* (91)||WON|
|IND vs AUS, 1st||32/3 (4.5) – Rahul 9 (12)||LOST|
|IND vs AUS, 2nd||77/2 (12.2) – Rahul 32 (50)||LOST|
|IND vs PAK, 1st||123/2 (17.5) – Rahul 111* (106)||WON|
|IND vs SL, 1st||91/3 (15.1) – Rahul 39 (44)||WON|
|IND vs BAN, 2nd||17/2 (2.4) – Rahul 19 (39)||LOST|
|IND vs AUS, 2nd||148/2 (23.4) – Rahul 58* (63)||WON|
|IND vs AUS, 1st||216/2 (30.5) – Rahul 52 (38)||WON|
|IND vs AUS, 2nd||171/3 (26.5) – Rahul 26 (30)||LOST|
|IND vs AUS, 2nd||2/3 (1.6) – Rahul 97* (115)||WON|