KL Rahul’s strike rate once more under scrutiny after LSG get hammered by Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2024

Rahul led from the front in the game versus CSK
PC – BCCI. Rahul’s strike rate once more came under scrutiny

u set a test paper on how modern-day cricket is played, one of the questions could be:  Explain power-hitting?  Look no further than the concluded IPL 2024 game between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Lucknow Super Giants on Wednesday night to find the right answer. Abhishek Sharma and Travis Head’s blitz took the wind out of LSG’s sails as they overhauled the target of 167 in a mere 9.4 overs. Yes, in just 9.4 overs.

Just take a quick look at the second and fifth overs of the game to reaffirm the point. Abhishek and Head crunched eight boundaries and one hit cleared the rope. Both were intent on clearing the front leg and taking deliveries well in front of the body. Perhaps, even a couple of seasons ago, any given batting-duo would have treaded with a bit of caution after clubbing a couple of big hits. Not so in this edition of the IPL, and certainly not the explosive duet of Head and Abhishek. 

As KL Rahul, the losing LSG skipper, said:  “I am lost for words. We have watched that kind of batting on television. But this is unreal batting. Everything seemed to find the middle of the bat. Kudos to their skills. They have worked hard on their six hitting skills. They didn’t give us a chance to know what the pitch played in the second innings. Was hard to stop them as they teed off from ball one.”

And that brings into focus how the LSG captain himself went about constructing his rather sedate innings 21 off 25 deliveries. Just to put Rahul’s innings in perspective, neither Abhishek nor Head ended up playing 33 deliveries, and they finished up with mind-numbing scores of 75 and 89 respectively. Abhishek and Head also collected a whopping 14 sixes and 16 boundaries between them. In sharp contrast, Rahul had 1 boundary and 1 six to his name.

Granted that the pitch had a touch of loopy bounce at the start of LSG’s innings and SRH plucked a couple of wickets up front. However, accumulating your runs at a strike rate of 87.88 in the PowerPlay wouldn’t help a team’s cause. Even in LSG’s last game, while trying to hunt down a monstrous target of 236, Rahul’s effort of 25 in 21 deliveries turned out to be a tame one. Moreover, Rahul’s strike rate of 136.09 is the lowest among the top 20 run-getters of the ongoing IPL. Last year, he even conceded a first-over maiden in back-to-back IPL matches.

Just remove a few pieces of the outer coating and one will notice more pointers about Rahul’s downturn: The last time he had a strike rate of over 140 during an IPL season was back in 2018 – 158.41. Incidentally, that also happens to be Rahul’s best-ever IPL season. 

Somewhere, Rahul’s problems are more related to the mental aspect. He will never be as good as Travis Heads and Abhishek Sharma in tonking the ball, but he definitely has the game to ramp up his strike rate to acceptable levels and keep his owners happy.