Is KL Rahul a captaincy material in white-ball cricket?

India put up an extremely poor performance in the three-match ODI series against the South African side. The ‘Men in Blue’ were whitewashed in the series, and KL Rahul put up an ordinary show as the skipper of the Indian cricket team.

Rahul was found wanting in the series, and several former cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Aakash Chopra and Gautam Gambhir were not happy with the way Rahul led the ‘Men in Blue’ in the three-match rubber. 

Gavaskar felt that Rahul erred with his tactics in the second ODI against the Proteas, and remarked that Rahul did not know what to do.

“KL Rahul didn’t know where to go. When you have your two-most experienced death-overs bowlers in Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar, you have to keep them for the last 5-6 overs. So that’s where you can actually stop the opposition from running away with a big score,” Gavaskar had said after the 2nd ODI match between South Africa and India.

Is this criticism fair? Is KL Rahul a captaincy material in white-ball cricket?

Well, Rahul has produced very ordinary results as the skipper even in the high-profile Indian Premier League (IPL). Rahul captained the Punjab Kings (PBKS) in the 2020 and 2021 editions of the IPL, but on both occasions, the Punjab side did not qualify for the playoffs.

Rahul scored heavily with the bat in both these IPL seasons. While he blasted 670 runs in IPL 2020 at an average of 55.83, he plundered a colossal 626 runs at an average in excess of 60 in IPL 2021. However, for all his prowess with the bat, KL Rahul the captain fell short. Clearly, in whatever opportunities he has got, Rahul has failed to distinguish himself as a captain.

However, there is still time in his career, and Rahul is not even 30 yet. He has been named as the skipper of the Lucknow side ahead of the 2022 IPL season, and the 15th edition of the tournament will provide Rahul with another opportunity to prove his worth as the captain. But as of now, Rahul surely does not seem to be cut out for the job of a captain in white-ball cricket.