Kings XI Punjab’s impressive performances under KL Rahul‘s captaincy has apparently prompted the national selectors to name him as Virat Kohli‘s deputy in both Indian limited-over squads for the upcoming Australia tour in the absence of an injured Rohit Sharma.
Sharma has not been named in any of the three squads announced on Monday, and has been kept under observation for his injury.
Rahul, who has represented India in 36 Tests, 32 One-day Internationals, and 42 T20 Internationals, has led from the front in this season’s Indian Premier League with 595 runs — scored at an average of 59.5 — 124 more than his nearest rival Shikhar Dhawan and is favourite to win the Orange Cap, as of now.
Initially, Rahul had been criticised for not playing Chris Gayle as the team fared poorly but with time, he seems to have gained confidence in his leadership, trying out new things. When his star overseas player Glenn Maxwell was struggling to perform with the bat, the KXIP captain from Karnataka did not bench him but used him to open the bowling in the power-play.
Maxwell more often than not has managed to keep the run rate in check. Rahul has also used his spin bowlers and Chris Jordan intelligently.
Former India captain and opener Sunil Gavaskar praised Rahul leadership skills on TV on Monday.
“We’ve seen him grow into captaincy. Nobody is a perfect captain. You might have captained for 50-100 times, but everyday is a learning day, you learn every session and Rahul has grown into captaincy. At the start of the tournament, he was just a little bit tentative and of course, the fact that there is Anil Kumble in the dugout here has helped him greatly. Anil is also from Bengaluru, so clearly he has somebody to confide in and talk after the match, discuss, analyse what he did right and what he did wrong,” he said.
Kings XI Punjab have a strong chance of making the play-offs this time, after finishing in the bottom half of the points table over the last five years — 6th in 2019, 7th in 2018, 5th in 2017, 8th in 2016 and 2015.