KL Rahul © AFP
KL Rahul © AFP

When Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) formed their unit after 2018 IPL players auctions, they did not have definite leader or a wicketkeeper in place. Although they did have contenders like David Miller, Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh as potential captains (based on their previous IPL captaincy experience), KXIP opted for Ravichandran Ashwin. KXIP also made the most expensive purchase of the season – KL Rahul (INR 11 crores). He has played a crucial role for RCB, especially in their run to the final in 2016 season.

This time around, Rahul has been handed additional responsibility as the wicketkeeper of KXIP. And this is not the first time Rahul will be seen keeping wickets in IPL. Though Rahul has done a fair job with the bat and gloves, he admitted the challenges he might face as a wicketkeeper-batsman for KXIP in a chat with Sportstar: “For now, I will be keeping is what I know. But you never know, the game is fast and you got to be flexible in your head. There will be changes according to the situation, wickets and other factors. So you can’t really tell who is going to be permanent in any position.”

Meanwhile, Karnataka coach P. V Shashikanth is confident of Rahul excelling as both batsman and wicketkeeper. He even compared him to Rahul Dravid: “He is same like Rahul Dravid. When he was playing for India, he was also asked to keep. He comes from the same mould. I remember a game when he was playing U-22 and we had a main ‘keeper in the first innings. He left almost five or six byes and those went for boundaries; almost 20 runs were leaked like that. K. L was also in the side, so I asked him to keep in the second innings. It was a tight game and every run was important. He kept brilliantly and ultimately, we lost by 20 runs.”

Rahul had recently kept wickets in the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy final against Saurashtra and his state coach continued praising the wicketkeeper-batsman: “He readily accepted. He had come from South Africa, but there was no sign of a jet lag. He said, ‘sir, anything for the side, whenever you want me to keep, I will keep if it can strike a balance in the side and you can play an extra batsman or a bowler’. He fits into the role, especially in the T20Is and ODIS,” the coach added.