Photo: BCCI

Punjab Kings captain KL Rahul was the most prolific batsman in the Indian Premier League last season, scoring 670 runs to claim the Orange Cap for the first time in his career. The 28-year-old scored five fifties and a century for the franchise in 2020, giving his team a solid start more often than not. 

Nevertheless, one criticism that was often levelled at Rahul was pertaining to his strike rate. The Punjab Kings skipper often took time to get himself into the game, playing out a few balls in the powerplay overs. This season however one can expect a different avatar from KL Rahul, a return to being the aggressive player he was when he made a name for himself in the IPL.

"KL batted a little timidly last season. He probably batted deeper because there was not much batting after No. 5, and Glenn Maxwell was not firing. He took that responsibility on himself to try and stay at the crease and get the job done. This time around, everyone will see an aggressive KL Rahul for sure," revealed batting coach Wasim Jaffer said in an interview to Times of India.

Last season, the middle-order was a cause for concern for Punjab with the team seeming very reliant on one of the top four players to get a big score. This time around however the franchise has roped in a few shrewd replacements for that middle-order slot, allowing KL Rahul the full license to go berserk from the get go. 

"Shahrukh Khan is someone we are looking at as a finisher this time around. He is an exceptional hitter. He played an important role in Tamil Nadu's title triumph in Syed Mushtaq Ali. Fabien Allen is another exciting talent as is Prabhsimran Singh.”

"This is a much more balanced side than last year. We lacked bowlers who can back Mohammed Shami. In Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith, we have got two pacers who can bowl quick," added the former Indian opener.

With many other players this time around to shoulder the burden for the franchise, Rahul can be expected to play more freely and express himself to the fullest. Fans may get a glimpse of that aggressive intent very soon, when Punjab Kings take on Rajasthan Royals in their season opener on Monday, April 12 at the Wankhede Stadium.