Punjab Kings captain says the ability to intimidate with pace is something the team used to be lacking the previous couple of seasons
Captain KL Rahul is excited to watch the Punjab Kings’ new speed sensation Riley Meredith bowl with “proper pace”, something Rahul believes his team has been lacking for a couple of years to “intimidate the opposition”. The Kings bought Meredith, who made his T20I debut for Australia against New Zealand final month – for INR 8 crore (US$ 1.1 million approx.) at the IPL 2021 auctions. He joins a pace attack that also includes Jhye Richardson this time, with the exception of Mohammed Shami, Chris Jordan, Arshdeep Singh and Ishan Porel.
“I’m truly having a look forward to watching Riley Meredith bowl,” Rahul said on Red Bull’s podcast Decoding Athletes earlier this week. “I watched him in a few games in New Zealand, he could bowl some proper pace, that’s something that I’ve felt we were lacking for three or four seasons that I’ve been with the Kings…someone with sheer pace, someone who can intimidate the opposition. So I’m having a look forward to watching him bowl from in the back of the stumps.”
Set to play his maiden IPL season, Meredith can push the speed gun towards 150kmh, and had pinned Kane Williamson lbw twice in three innings, including for a first-ball duck in the fifth T20I of the recent series. Before that, Meredith used to be a few of the top three wicket-takers for the Hobart Hurricanes in the BBL, with 16 wickets in 13 games at an economy rate of 7.82.
After leaking a couple of too many runs towards the death overs final season, the Kings spent a combined INR 22 crore (US$ 3 million approx.) on the Australian duo of Richardson and Meredith this time, who could play the role that Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje did for the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2020. But that would intent the Kings can play only two out of Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Dawid Malan, Fabian Allen and Moises Henriques for the other two in a foreign country players’ spots.
Rahul, who topped the run-scoring charts in IPL 2020, also said that not having the ability to near out a couple of games cost the Kings a playoff spot final year. The Kings had finished sixth in the final IPL, only two points in the back of the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, who finished third and fourth respectively.
“I most often consider that we were a tad bit unfortunate final time,” Rahul said. “We did play some truly good cricket. A few games we truly couldn’t near for different reasons. It did hurt a little, but I hope that the change of name, change of jersey – there’s been lots of changes – can bring us some good fortune.”
An lively KL Rahul addresses his team ahead of play BCCI
Rahul further said he had been in touch with Anil Kumble (director of cricket operations) and Andy Flower (assistant coach) even when he used to be in quarantine to talk about “what sort of combinations” to play and to come to a decision which “player plays in what position”.
Rahul’s own form had been under scrutiny all over the recent T20Is against England at home in which he scored 14, 0, 0 and 1. Although he used to be dropped for the fifth T20I, captain Virat Kohli and batting coach Vikram Rathour backed him publicly, and then played him in the three ODIs, in which Rahul scored an unbeaten 62 and 108 in three innings.
Speaking on how he pulled himself out of the pits of low scores and how he dealt with the pressure, Rahul said: “I would possibly not lie, it does get to you once in a while and it’s tough once in a while. Particularly in the final [T20I] series when I wasn’t getting runs after having done mannered for a few years, and then a couple of poor performances and there are questions being raised and a large number of talk out of doors, it does get to you once in a while.
“But again you try and shift your focus back to what you’ve been doing mannered all of your life and that’s what has gotten you here so far so try and go back to the basics and take a look at and find a way to enjoy the process. And I’ve at all times been somebody who’s tried to remain balanced in regardless of the game gives me. So I’m grateful and I respect that, and I don’t need to start questioning myself when I start doing badly. So I’ve at all times tried to remain balanced and tried to take the game as it comes on a daily basis and what’s in my keep an eye on is to train tough, to prepare mannered, do my homework for the opposition and take a look at and understand and assess the conditions as quickly as I will and take a look at and do the most productive that I will for my team.
“Each time I’m in that sort of mindset I at all times have a tendency to do better. Each time I’ve done badly is when I start thinking approximately myself and I quickly snap out of it and take a look at and concentrate on the challenge which is winning games for the team and that’s the reason at all times appeared to helped me.”
The Kings will start their IPL crusade on April 12 against the Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo