MUMBAI (Reuters) - India opener Lokesh Rahul has often faced criticism for failing to convert solid scores into big totals and the 26-year-old is no longer happy to just provide his Kings XI Punjab franchise with explosive starts in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
In the early part of his test career, the stylish right-handed batsman scored four hundreds with just one half-century but since his 199 against England at the end of 2016, Rahul has scored nine more fifties without adding another ton.
The opener has provided Punjab with plenty of early quick runs but showed immense maturity on Sunday to remain unbeaten on 84 from 54 deliveries to lead his side to a six-wicket victory over the Rajasthan Royals.
“I want to get as many runs as I can in the powerplay,” Rahul told the IPL website. “(However,) I think I haven’t converted those starts into big runs for the team; as an opening batsman that’s what is crucial.
“If you get off to a good start, even if you get the run-rate down a bit in the middle overs, if you are set till the end you can do the most damage.”
During Sunday’s innings, Rahul scored 18 off 15 balls during the powerplay and then 48 off 43 before he shifted gears effortlessly to lead Punjab to a win after two straight losses.
Rahul took 44 balls to get to his fifty — the slowest in his IPL career — but it ended up being his highest score in the Twenty20 tournament.
The win took Punjab to third in the table on six wins from nine matches and firmly in position for one of the four playoff spots.
“Those were the things I was thinking about sitting back at home,” Rahul said, referring to the break he had between Punjab’s seventh and eighth fixtures.
“I wanted to come here with a fresher approach and try to win as many games as I can. (I wanted to) try to bat deep in the innings and that was the plan and I am very happy that it paid off today.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by John O'Brien