KL Rahul hit his 3rd successive fifty-plus score and his maiden IPL hundred as Kings XI Punjab dominated Mumbai Indians in match 24 of the 2019 Indian Premier League at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday. KL Rahul now has 1 hundred and 3 fifties in 7 matches for KXIP this season.
KL Rahul was watchful for most part of the innings but he exploded in the penultimate over of the innings when he blasted Hardik Pandya for 3 sixes and a 4 to move into the 90s.
He then Jasprit Bumrah for a six to move to 98 and on the fourth ball of the final over, ran two to bring up his first ever IPL hundred off 63 balls.
Take a bow, @klrahul11
IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 10, 2019
Last year, KL Rahul made 95 not out which was his career-best score in the IPL before tonight.
KL Rahul had a poor start to the IPL this year. He scored 4 against Rajasthan Royals and got out for 1 against Kolkata Knight Riders.
In an interview with India Today, Rahul had said he wanted to be more disciplined with the World Cup in mind. He then hit an unbeaten 71 against Mumbai Indians, was dismissed for 15 against Delhi Capitals before the straight fifty-plus scores.
Rahul’s streak of fifties started against Chennai Super Kings when he made 55. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad, KL Rahul saw his team through to victory with an ubeaten 71 before hitting another fifty against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede.
KL Rahul holds the record for the joint most fifties in Test cricket along with Chris Rogers, Kumar Sangakkara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Andy Flower and Everton Weeks.
From March 2017 to August 2017, KL Rahul made 7 successive fifties against Australia and Sri Lanka. His sequence of scores read: 90, 51, 57, 60, 51 not out, 57 and 85.
On Wednesday, KL Rahul was the more subdued in a 116-run stand for the first wicket with Chris Gayle who blasted a 36-ball 63. Once Gayle was dismissed, the scoring rate fell and KXIP lost David Miller and Karun Nair in quick succession.
KL Rahul finished with 100 not out off 64 balls and said the plan for him to bat as deep as possible.
“Lost for breath a little bit. Honestly thought the way Chris and I started, we would get over 200 but lost our way in the middle. But it was not easy and I am happy with the way we finished. For the first 6 overs, the plan was simple: both of us look to play cricketing shots,” Rahul told the broadcasters after KXIP’s innings.
“After the first six overs, whoever looks good, looks to take off. If Chris plays for 12 overs, it’s deadly for the opposition After Chris got out, we lost some more quick wickets,” he said.
Asked to recall his six-hitting spree against Hardik Pandya in the 19th over, Rahul said he was focussed on the ball and not the bowler: “I am focussing on the ball, now the bowler. Does not matter who runs in, I am looking to hit the ball for a six,” Rahul said.
The other bright spark for KXIP was Chris Gayle’s fiery form Wednesday night. Chris Gayle had hit 79 against Rajasthan Royals in KXIP’s season opener on March 25.
Between that 79 vs the Royals and the hundred vs KXIP, Chris Gayle made 20, 40, 5 and 16. On Wednesday, Gayle bounced back to form after a sedate start. With KL Rahul, Chris Gayle brought up a century opening stand after Mumbai Indians skipper Kieron Pollard won the toss and decided to bowl.
Chris Gayle was in fine form for KXIP in the 2018 IPL. He had scored a hundred against Sunrisers Hyderabad besides 3 fifties. In 11 matches last year, Gayle had scored 368 runs.
During the 2019 IPL, Chris Gayle became the fastest to 4000 IPL runs. He is also the only man to hit 300 sixes in the Indian Premier League.