KL Rahul defended his strategy of not going hard initially in Kings XI Punjab's mammoth 213-run chase against Sunrisers Hyderabad, insisting that the plan was always for one of him or Chris Gayle to go all out upfront while the other tried to take the game deep.
"That's been the team plan. One of me or Chris Gayle look to bat 15-16 overs as deep as possible so the others can play around," said Rahul at the post-match press conference. "That doesn't mean that you don't play your shots. I tried my shots a few times, it didn't come off, few went for boundaries, few hit the fielders."
Rahul (79) eventually finished with a strike-rate of 141.07 but at one stage of his innings was on 39 off 36 deliveries when the required rate was well above 15 runs per over. The opener, however, countered that having started well it was important for him to stay in the middle as he knew he can make up for it in the back end.
"Not always as a batsman you will get off to an amazing start, you don't get a 20-ball 50 each time," said Rahul. "Sometimes when you get off to a start like that you have got to make it count but sometimes when you are not finding your touch you have to hang in there. I know that if I am set I can make up for it.
"We couldn't get enough batting partnerships. We were batting well, unfortunate that each time we tried to take a chance we found a fielder."
Rahul also backed the embattled Mujeeb ur Rahman, who conceded a whopping 66 runs in his four overs - highest in this year's IPL. The Hyderabad batsman took special liking to Mujeeb carting him to all corners of the park. Rahul, however, was confident the Afghan would bounce back in the next game.
"Obviously, anybody who goes for that many runs will be disappointed. Sometimes it is not your day," said Rahul defending Mujeeb. "In T20 cricket that happens. Everyday one of the bowlers will get targeted and go for runs.
"He is a young guy, he has a lot of skill. This is the first time he has gone for so many runs. Before this he has done really really well for Kings XI and yeah one-off game this happens to every bowler. The best of bowlers will get hit for 50-60 runs, you just have to look to bounce back."
Punjab used just the five bowlers despite going for runs aplenty and the reason behind this Rahul said was injuries to a lot of the main guys in the team which has prevented them to go for a sixth bowling option.
"It is not an excuse but there are a few injuries in the team which doesn't allow us to go with a sixth bowling option or play an all-rounder," Rahul justified. "When you are going in with five bowlers, all of them have to bowl four overs each. There is not really a choice.
"When you have gone with five full-time bowlers, you have to trust them. You expect them to deliver most times but some times it does not happen."