Sanjay Manjrekar has questioned Lucknow Super Giants’ KL Rahul’s batting approach after the latter scored a 58-ball 79 in the 2022 Indian Premier League Eliminator loss against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Rahul is one of the most consistent batters in the IPL, scoring more than 550 runs in each of the last five seasons. However, while his season average has not dipped below 50 even once in this period, his strike rate has often been a bone of contention. Since the 2019 IPL, Rahul strikes at a rate of 134.53, and it became the topic of discussion once again after the Lucknow Super Giants captain faced 58 deliveries in the do-or-die Eliminator, going at a run rate of 136.20 in a run chase of 208.

Rahul had earlier copped criticism for his 51-ball 68* in his side’s match against Kolkata Knight Riders, where he struck at 133.33, with Quinton de Kock making a record-breaking 140* in 70 deliveries. Lucknow Super Giants managed to put 210-0 on the board and eventually won the game by just two runs.

Against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rahul was batting on 57 off 46 at one point, with big-hitters Marcus Stoinis and Evin Lewis still in the dugout. Rahul was eventually dismissed in the 19th over. Lucknow Super Giants went on to lose by 14 runs.

Manjrekar, speaking on ESPNcricinfo’s show T20 Time-Out, questioned Rahul’s approach and whether the responsibility of being captain and “the key player of the side” may be the reason for Rahul’s strike rate.

Manjrekar said: “We’ve seen enough of KL Rahul to now know that when he becomes this player, the captain, the key player of the side… I mean Virat Kohli loved that kind of responsibility. Dhoni loved it. I think Rohit Sharma, barring this season, generally likes that kind of responsibility. Maybe KL Rahul temperamentally is not suited to take this kind of responsibility where he is the man who’s got to get the job done. They are just made of different mettle and maybe KL Rahul isn’t.

“As a coach, I would drill that into his head to tell him that I’m not expecting you to win the game. You just go and have fun, and funnily enough, you’ll see the results start coming and that’s why I believe he has a much better strike rate at the international level rather than at the IPL level because he’s just one of the many batters. He’s playing alongside Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma and the others, so he just goes out there and expresses himself.

“The intention is right. He wants to win the game for his side but maybe he’s not cutout – his strike rate was 120 until the 15th or 16th over. That’s dangerous, that’s leaving too much, even for the likes of KL Rahul to do.

“Every time he decided to play the big shot, it came off. He played a couple of terrific shots against [Josh] Hazlewood. He can do it when he wants to but he just has this very deep-rooted belief or an attitude, or an approach, that he wants to bat longer rather than quicker.

“If I was his coach, I would just take that decision out of his hand even if he’s the captain. For the teams he’s played for, we’ve seen a lot of games where the teams would benefit immensely if KL Rahul just batted quicker rather than longer.”

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