Cricket

How KL Rahul became one of the world’s best batsmen in 2019-20

© Ali Bharmal
After a short exile from the Indian national cricket team, KL Rahul came back more determined than ever to prove his quality. Here’s how he did it.
Written by Sean SequeiraPublished on
Cricket · 8 min
KL Rahul - Shut Out The Noise
KL Rahul has grown in stature as a top player in the Indian cricket team.
He scored a century in his second Test match in 2014, became the first Indian to score an ODI century on debut in 2016, and capped it off with his first T20I century later that year. With his T20I ton, he broke the record for fastest centuries in all three formats of the game having done so in just 20 innings.
A small blimp in his career arose in January 2019 when he was temporarily dropped from the Indian team.
While there was chatter in the news and social media on the reasons for his expulsion, Rahul decided to focus his energy on training, perfecting his technique and relying on his mentality that made him a winner.
He called up his old friends, went to a secluded ground and batted for hours and hours to perfect his batting technique
His friend David Mathias (who he has played with for a long time in Karnataka’s domestic set-up) watched his net sessions, recorded videos, and advised him on how he could improve his technique. Rahul compared the recent videos with those of his performances in 2017-18 to spot the differences between then and now.
He realized that his bat swing was going away from his body, which wasn’t ideal. Fixing that part of his technique helped him get a lot more control on his batting. And the results were there to see as his return to the cricket team saw excellent performances and many positive comments from cricketing legends on his batting technique.
Rahul also focused on his physicality, putting in the time to work on his body and get himself fit for top-level cricket. He reminded himself that although every training session was strenuous, “Pain is a luxury” he could enjoy as a successful cricketer.
While focusing on the physical aspects of the game, Rahul also made himself mentally strong. He would keep reminding himself of the thoughts that went through his head during his Test debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2014, and how his strong mentality then helped him bounce back to score a century in his second Test match in Sydney.
He also kept it in his mind that when he returned to the team, he would not be desperate to chase runs in an effort to prove himself. He would just do what the team needed him to do, and that would get the best out of him.
The results of his effort were there for all to see as Rahul came back stronger than ever, becoming one of the best players in international and domestic cricket over the course of a year. As of August 2020, the ICC rankings for best T20I batsmen had him ranked second, a testament to his efforts and performances.

Here are some of KL Rahul’s achievements from February 2019 to February 2020:

  • Top Indian run-getter (97) in two-match T20I series against Australia from 25th to 27th February 2019
  • Scored his first premier league century (100* in 64 balls) against Mumbai Indians on 10th April
  • Top Indian run-getter in the 2019 season with 593 runs in 14 matches
  • Called up to Indian squad for 2019 Cricket World Cup
  • Scored his first World Cup century for India against Sri Lanka on 6th July
  • Scored his 1000th T20I run against West Indies on 6th December
  • Scored his 1000th run in ODIs against Australia on 17th January 2020
  • Scored the 4000th T20 run of his career against New Zealand on 31st January
  • Top run-getter of the five-match T20I series against New Zealand from 24th January to 2nd February
  • Named man of the series against New Zealand as India became first team to whitewash opponents in a bilateral T20I series
  • Moved up to rank 2 in ICC rankings for T20I batsmen in February 2020