On Saturday, he was more controlled in attack like the situation demanded him to be, and helped Kings XI Punjab over the line with more than an over to spare.
The blazing starts he gave, made Kings XI a formidable unit to contend with in the powerplay overs in 2018. He made a whopping 364 runs in the first six overs alone last year with his strike rate a brilliant 157.58. But against Mumbai Indians in the run-chase at Mohali, Rahul was more circumspect and chose to play second-fiddle to Chris Gayle who was on fire.
He faced just 16 balls in the powerplay and scored just 10 runs while Gayle had raced to 28 in 20 balls. Rahul's measured approach almost made it seem like he was struggling to score. At the point Gayle was dismissed, Rahul was on 12 off 20 balls but Mayank Agarwal stepping up immediately meant he resorted to an anchor role.
On 30 off 36 balls at Agarwal's dismissal, Rahul soon started the acceleration knowing fully well that they had to contend with Bumrah and Malinga in the death, both of whom had two overs apiece. In the end, he played them both extremely well to take Kings XI to the target.
His record against Bumrah and Malinga make for interesting viewing. Against Malinga, he has made 18 runs in 15 balls with his only dismissal against the Lankan coming in 2014 when he faced him first. At Mohali, he made 12 in 9 balls against him. He also has an impressive record against Jasprit Bumrah. He has made 61 runs in 48 balls against the Indian seamer at a strike rate of 127.08. At Mohali on Saturday, he made 21 off 16 balls against the death overs specialist.
His unbeaten 71 now gives Rahul the second best average for a Kings XI batsman against Mumbai Indians. This is his eleventh IPL half-century. Three of those have come against the Mumbai Indians. Last season, the last time these two sides met, Rahul had made 94. His average against them for Kings XI Punjab is a superb 94.5 with Hashim Amla the only one above him. He has two half-centuries while playing for Kings XI against Mumbai Indians. The measured approach he took on Saturday paid off as Kings XI registered their second win in the season.
First Published: March 30, 2019, 9:12 PM IST