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Teams who might be interested in signing KL Rahul

A relatively unknown Karnataka lad in his early 20s, KL Rahul made his Indian T20 League debut for his local team, Bangalore, in the 2013 season. He scored 20 runs in five games and quite understandably, was not retained for the next season.

The next two seasons saw him playing frequently for Hyderabad, without justifying the opportunities provided to him. He was traded back to Bangalore for the 2016 season, and since then, there has been no looking back.

In the last five seasons of this competition, Rahul has not only scored the most runs (2,943) but has also maintained the highest average (54.50) among those who have faced a minimum of 500 deliveries.

He has scored 600+ runs in three of his last four seasons for Punjab, while in the only season he did not, Rahul still accumulated 593 runs. Despite not bringing any glory on the trophies front, the 29-year-old made himself a fan favourite in Punjab, but like the vast majority of things in the Indian T20 League, his relationship with them has now come to an end.

Having reportedly denied a contract extension, Rahul has made himself available for the Indian T20 League 2022 mega auction, and given his stats, it does not take a Lakshmi Narayanan or an AR Srikkanth to predict he will spark a full-blown bidding war in a few months.

Let us have a look at the teams who could participate in that bidding war for the Indian T20I vice-captain:

 

Lucknow

If reports are to be believed, Rahul has already been in touch with the management of the newly-formed Lucknow franchise. Whether it is at all ethical or not is a debate for a different day and analyzing it is not the intention of this article, but in all probability, Lucknow could be the perfect fit for Rahul.

Be it with Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Chennai, Gautam Gambhir at Kolkata or even Shane Warne at Rajasthan, the importance of an influential leader has been highlighted time and again in this competition.

Being a new franchise, Lucknow will have a long checklist, but the top of the list should read – ‘Find a captain.’ Besides being a splendid opening batter, Rahul is also a potent skipper and signing him could mean killing two birds with one stone for Lucknow.

 

Bangalore

As mentioned previously, Rahul had an underwhelming start to his Indian T20 League career. He would not have received an INR 11 crore bid in 2018, had Bangalore not given him a second chance in 2016.

Provided he does not sign a contract with Lucknow and goes under the hammer instead, Bangalore might go all out for their local superstar, for a few reasons. Firstly, their enigmatic leader Virat Kohli has relinquished captaincy and getting a new captain is at the top of their priority list.

Secondly, Bangalore have surprisingly not retained Devdutt Padikkal, the elegant opener who has scored 884 runs in the last two seasons for the Karnataka-based team. Hence, by roping in KL Rahul, Bangalore management will not only find their new skipper but will also find a worthy opening partner for Virat Kohli.

 

Kolkata

Kolkata have not been particularly poor post the Gautam Gambhir era. They have played impressive cricket at times and have also been the breeding ground of unknown commodities like Varun Chakravarthy and Venkatesh Iyer.

What has really hurt the two-time Indian T20 League champions is the lack of an in-form captain. Dinesh Karthik was underwhelming during his stint as the leader and eventually called it quits two and a half seasons later.

Eoin Morgan might have taken the team to the final last season, but if we were to analyze his individual performances, we would probably end up spending more words than the runs he has scored in a purple shirt. Known for being shrewd at the auction table, Kolkata management will know well how KL Rahul can be the answer to a plethora of their problems.

 

Hyderabad

Unlike the first three teams on our list, Hyderabad are not in a desperate hunt for a captain. They have retained Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson, who in all likelihood, is likely to lead the Orange Army next season.

That being said, analysis of their recent failures might spur the Hyderabad management to break their bank on Rahul. They have not had the best of times in this competition lately and a major reason for that has been the lack of form of their Indian batters.

Experienced campaigners like Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav have hardly been impactful, while youngsters like Priyam Garg have not been particularly eye-catching either. Understandably, Williamson is the only specialist batter to have been retained by Hyderabad.

They will go into the upcoming auction with the second-highest purse of INR 68 crore and their number one target will be to find an Indian batter who can not only support Williamson but also take the onus on himself on days when the ICC World Test Championship winning captain fails to deliver.

 

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