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IPL 2019: How McCullum's 'Unbelievable' 158 Changed Rahul as Cricketer

When Brendon McCullum lit up the M Chinnaswamy Stadium with his breathtaking 73-ball 158* in the first-ever Indian Premier League encounter, a 16-year-old KL Rahul was present at the stadium and it completely changed his mindset as a cricketer.

Cricketnext Staff |March 25, 2019, 3:58 PM IST
IPL 2019: How McCullum's 'Unbelievable' 158 Changed Rahul as Cricketer

When Brendon McCullum lit up the M Chinnaswamy Stadium with his breathtaking 73-ball 158* in the first-ever Indian Premier League encounter, a 16-year-old KL Rahul was present at the stadium and it completely changed his mindset as a cricketer.

"For us as youngsters, it was unbelievable. After that is when I started practising hitting sixes, reverse sweeps and scoop shots. That is one of my first IPL memories and one of my favourites," Rahul told Red Bull recollecting that night.

"I was in the stadium as a 16-year-old boy watching the game. Brendon McCullum got a 158 with the kind of batting that we had never ever seen or witnessed before. Obviously, the flavour and madness of T20 began with the 2008 IPL season."

(Image: BCCI) (Image: BCCI)

Rahul didn't had a great start to his IPL career and struggled to get going in his first three seasons (from 2013 to 2015) before finally smashing 397 runs in 2016 at an average of 44.1 and a strike rate of 146.49 for his home franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore.

"I got transferred last minute from Hyderabad to Bangalore. I got a call at 9:20 am when the auction was to start at 9:30am. I remember very clearly that I was at my friend Varun Aaron's wedding and they called me saying, 'We have transferred you to RCB. We are sorry because we have other plans and we don't see you fitting into our plans. You will get better chances in RCB.'

"I was very happy to be back home in Bangalore. That year was just so good for me. I didn't start off the season but I came into the tournament by the fifth or sixth game. I got my first IPL 50 in Gujarat while batting with Virat, and then I went on to score four consecutive 50s. At one point in the season, we needed to win five out of six games to go to the next stage, and we ended up winning all of the matches. We went on to play the final and lost to Hyderabad, but 2016 was a magical year for me because it turned my whole career around."

Bangalore, however, failed to buy him back for the 2018 season as Kings XI Punjab snatched him for Rs 11 crore. Rahul went on to have an outstanding season as he amassed 659 runs at a strike rate of 158.41 despite Punjab failing to qualify for the playoffs.

(Image: BCCI) (Image: BCCI

"The day when I went to sign my RCB contract papers is my next great memory. I thought it would just me signing the papers with some manager," he said.

"But I remember I walked into the room and there was a full team meeting with the directors; Virat Kohli was also sitting there. I walked into the room like I was the coolest person there but suddenly I saw everyone and thought, "What have I walked into?" The contract is about 20-30 pages so it took me a while to go through it.

"After that Virat came to me, put an arm around my shoulder and said, "Welcome to the team. We are going to have a blast." That was a big moment for me and also the start of my first IPL season so I think of all the cricketers I played with then; Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Zaheer Khan, and everyone else. Just getting to hang out with all of them is what I remember fondly.

"Last year was also very special individually. I played for Punjab and got over 600 runs in the season. I also got the record for the fastest 50 in the IPL last season. So there are a lot of really good memories for me."

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