Orange Cap Holder IPL 2020 – KL Rahul
World’s most awaited cricket event IPL 2020 was successfully held in the UAE in the middle of the Covid pandemic. Started after a long gap in international cricket, the tournament didn’t fail to mesmerise fans with some last ball battles, nail-biting finishes in Super Overs and the race for the playoffs. But it was the battle of the biggies to get hold of the Orange cap that took the final day to decide. Finally, it was Punjab Kings (then Kings XI Punjab) skipper and opener KL Rahul who stole the show with his swashbuckling form throughout the group stage.
KL Rahul scored 670 runs in 14 games at an average of 55.83 and a strike rate of 129.34 to claim the Orange Cap. To achieve this feat, he scored a century, 5 half-centuries, 58 boundaries and 23 sixes. Throughout the series, he made bowlers and oppositions look like rookies.
Let’s have a look at how he has progressed in his career and pay attention to his performace in the 13th edition of the IPL.
Emergence in the IPL
After representing India in the 2010 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, Rahul rose through the ranks in domestic cricket while representing Karnataka. In 2013, Royal Challengers Bangalore picked him to represent them in the IPL only to release him at the end of the season. In 2014, Sunrisers Hyderabad picked Rahul in the auction and handed him a debut. Unfortunately, he could only score 308 runs in 20 innings at an average of 23.69 and a strike rate of 106.21 for SRH. After back-to-back eyebrow-raising performances in first-Class cricket (1033 runs in 2013-14, 838 at an average of 93.11 in 2014) he was called up for an Australia tour.
Rahul returned to RCB in 2016. He scored 397 runs that season for RCB in 14 matches. After missing the entire 2017 season, Rahul was picked by Punjab Kings in the 2018 auction. In 2018, Rahul scored 659 runs in 14 games at an average of 54.92 and a strike rate of 158.41 to finish third on the Orange Cap list behind Kane Williamson (735) and Rishabh Pant (684). He improved his performance the next season by scoring 593 runs at an average of 53.91 and a strike rate of 135.39 to finish second on the Orange Cap list.
In 2020, with a new responsibility of captaincy on his shoulders, Rahul finally achieved what he missed last two seasons. The coveted Orange Cap!
Progress in IPL 2020
With the captaincy of Punjab Kings on his shoulders, Rahul kicked off his IPL season by partnering with his childhood friend and Karnataka teammate Mayank Agarwal to open the innings. In the second game, he registered his highest IPL score with unbeaten 132 runs in 69 balls at a strike rate of 191.30. This performance earned Rahul a lot of praise from all over the world. In the next seven games, Rahul scored 5 half-centuries. By the end of the 9th game, Rahul was leading the Orange Cap list by a huge margin. In 9 games, Rahul scored 525 runs at an average of 75 and a strike rate of 135.
The opening partnerships with Mayank Agarwal helped Rahul a lot to score freely and aggressively. However, an injury ended Mayank’s season earlier, in the 11th game. From there on, Rahul couldn’t replicate the intensity and aggressiveness of the first half of the IPL and ended up scoring only 145 runs in the last 5 games at an average of 29.
His dominance in the first 9 games of the IPL didn’t let any other player excluding Shikhar Dhawan come close to the magic figure of 670 runs. And even after playing 3 matches less than Dhawan, KL Rahul finally put the Orange Cap on his head.
Notable Performances in IPL 2020
- An unbeaten century followed by an unbeaten half-century against Royal Challengers Bangalore
In the first game against his former franchise RCB, Rahul scored an unbeaten 132 runs with the help of 14 boundaries and 7 sixes. PBKS comfortably won the game by 97 runs. In the returning leg, Rahul again punished his former team by scoring unbeaten 61 runs in 49 balls with 1 four and 5 sixes. Chasing the target of 172 runs set by RCB, Rahul made two crucial partnerships with Agarwal (78 runs) and Gayle (93 runs). PBKS won the battle on the last ball of the match with a six.
- Three consecutive half-centuries followed by the second Super Over finish
In the 7th, 8th and 9th matches of the PBKS, Rahul scored consecutive half-centuries against KKR, RCB (the one mentioned earlier), and MI. Unfortunately, PBKS lost the game against KKR by 2 runs. However, Rahul made sure to make it count against RCB and MI. Punjab won by 8 wickets against RCB.
In the game against Mumbai Indians, chasing the target of 177 runs set by MI, Rahul scored 77 runs in 51 balls with 7 boundaries and 3 sixes. With 1 run needed in the last ball, Punjab lost Chris Jordan and hence ended up tying the game. In the first Super Over, Rahul scored 4 runs to set a target of 6 runs for MI. Punjab Bowler Mohammed Shami defended the target and forced another Super Over which Punjab won by scoring the target of 12 runs in 4 balls.
Continued Dominance in IPL 2021
It has never looked like anything changed for KL Rahul when comparing the IPL 2020 and 2021 seasons. In 7 matches played by PBKS before the IPL got postponed, Rahul scored 331 runs at an average of 66.20 and a strike rate of 136.21. His performances included 4 half-centuries with an identical score of 91 runs in the first and last game of the IPL. Unfortunately, he missed the final game after getting diagnosed with appendicitis. Currently, he is second on the Orange Cap list with 49 runs and a game less than the list’s leader, Shikhar Dhawan.
Other Top Run-Scorers in IPL 2020
Below is the list of the top 10 scorers of the IPL 2020.
|Rahul, K L||PBKS||14||670||132*||1||5||55.83||129.34|
|Warner, D A||SRH||16||548||85||0||4||39.14||134.64|
|Iyer, S S||DC||17||519||88||0||3||34.60||123.28|
|De Kock, Q||MI||16||503||78||0||4||35.93||140.50|
|Yadav, S A||MI||15||480||79*||0||4||40.00||145.02|
|De Villiers, A B||RCB||14||454||73||0||5||45.40||158.74|
As you can see, MI, RCB and DC dominate this list. MI and DC went on to play the final that MI won eventually.
Let’s now pay attention to the 3 top scorers apart from KL Rahul.
· Shikhar Dhawan
Delhi Capitals opener Shikhar Dhawan scored 618 runs in 17 matches at an average of 44.14 and a strike rate of 144.73. Dhawan who had a good start in the IPL 2020 scored back-to-back unbeaten centuries against CSK and PBKS. Just when it looked like he took over the race from KL Rahul, Dhawan only scored 60 runs in the next 5 innings (6,0,54,0,0). He again got a chance in the final where he needed 67 runs to overthrow Rahul from the first position. However, he lost his wicket after scoring 15 runs with the bat and settled on the second position.
· David Warner
Another opener and SRH’s skipper David Warner scored 548 runs in 16 games at an average of 39.14 and a strike rate of 548 runs. Warner was consistent throughout the season but couldn’t convert the start into big innings. In the final game of the group stage, Warner scored 85 runs in 58 balls against Mumbai Indians to beat them by 10 wickets and to qualify for playoffs. But a low-scoring Eliminator followed by a single-digit score in the Qualifier 2 shattered Warner’s dream to pick up the Orange Cap for the record-breaking third time.
· Shreyas Iyer
After Shikhar Dhawan, his captain Shreyas Iyer was also among the top run-scorers in the IPL 2020. No wonder Delhi Capitals went all the way to the final. Shreyas Iyer scored 519 runs at an average of 34.60 in 17 matches with a strike rate of 123.27. He hit 3 half-centuries, the highest being the score of 88 not out, off just 38 balls to help Delhi win against KKR by 18 runs. Iyer’s captaincy was as astute as his run scoring.
In the final three seasons of the IPL, KL Rahul proved himself to be the most efficient run-getter in the IPL. One can clearly see his progress over the years to be included in the same league with Warner and Kohli. Though he was going to miss the entire second half of the IPL due to appendicitis, the postponement of the IPL has given him a new hope to chase Shikhar Dhawan and defend his Orange Cap. If and when the IPL returns, the fans are definitely going to see a nail-biting battle for the Orange Cap this season too.
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