If you had to pick the best IPL batsman after 14 seasons, who would you go for? Well, for sheer number of runs, it would have to be Virat Kohli, who after 207 matches has 6283 runs, 500 more than the next best, Shikhar Dhawan.
But as the only man with an average over 40 (41.59 to be precise) from those in the Top 10 for most IPL runs, and the one with the most IPL fifties (exactly 50), you could make a case for David Warner.
But what about Chris Gayle? No one can match his six IPL centuries, much less his 357 sixes. And of those in the Top 10, only AB de Villiers has a higher strike rate than Gayle’s 149.
All these are right up there, as are the likes of Rohit Sharma and de Villiers. But it’s worth looking much further down the list and at the man who is currently just 16th for most IPL runs scored because in time, he might be the best of the lot.
Heres’ why KL Rahul might in time, become King of the IPL.
He has the best average by a country mile
At 47.43, he has an outstanding average given the standard of the IPL.
From the players in the Top 20 for most IPL runs, only Warner averages over 40 (41.59), with de Villiers (39.7) and MS Dhoni (39.55) the ones with the next highest average.
Rahul averages a whole five runs more than the second best and plenty more than some other IPL greats: Kohli averages 37.39 and Rohit Sharma 31.17, as just two examples.
He gets better every year
Look at Rahul’s average over the years.
Here’s his average for the season since making his debut back in 2013, earliest first: 10, 20.7, 28.4, 44.11, 54.91, 53.90, 55.83 and 62.6.
With the exception of 2019 when he averaged 53.9, a littles less than the 54.91 he averaged in 2018, his average has gone up year by year, suggesting he’s gotten better and better. And that he may get even better!
He’s the epitome of consistency
Those five seasons of averaging over 40 tell their own story, as does the fact that for the last two seasons he’s averaged over 55.
The number of runs he’s scored each year is also incredible. Here’s his tally for the past four seasons, earliest first: 659, 593, 670 and 626.
Most players would dream of scoring over 600 runs in an IPL season just once; Rahul does it year after year.
He’s always up there with the best
But let’s put those runs tallies into perspective.
In 2018 he was the third-highest scorer in the IPL with 659 runs. He ended just 74 runs short of Kane Williamson, despite playing three games fewer.
In 2019 he was second with 593, losing out to David Warner, whose 692 runs in 12 games were a truly outstanding effort.
And in 2020, he went one further, being IPL top runscorer for the season. Not only were his 670 runs 52 more than anyone else but he played three games fewer than some of his rivals, after Punjab failed to make the Playoffs, meaning he featured in just 14 games.
In 2021, he was third with 626 and unlucky on three counts. Firstly, that Punjab failed to make the Playoffs again.
Secondly, that he missed a group match with illness. A score of 10 on more in it and he would have won anyway.
And thirdly, that the two who overtook him- Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis both of CSK – only did so thanks to decent knocks during the final meaning that in the process, they played three more matches than Rahul.
Had Rahul played just that one more match and he would surely have won it.
Time is on his side
Rahul will turn 30 during this year’s IPL.
That means that of the Top 20 players on the IPL’s highest run scorer list, he’s the only one under the age of 30.
Let’s say he plays till he’s 37.
By that stage you’d think that the likes of Dhawan ( currently 36 years old), Sharma (34) and Kohli (33) will all have retired and that he’ll have two or three seasons when they’re no longer around.
Meaning he’ll not only keep climbing up that top runscorer’s list but will also be hitting more sixes, more fours, more fifties and centuries on his way to breaking other records.
By the time he’s hung up his own bat, he might be top of the pile on just about every IPL run scoring metric.
Fresh season at Lucknow
At the end of last season, Rahul decided he didn’t want to be retained at Punjab Kings. It clearly wasn’t a decision based on money because he would have been a big earner there as a retained player anyway.
Presumably, he just felt his time was up at Punjab, wanted a fresh challenge at another franchise and that his chances of winning an IPL title (which he hasn’t managed) lay elsewhere.
Not wasting any time ahead were new franchise Lucknow Super Giants, who were allowed to pick three players ahead of the Mega Auction.
They instantly made him the joint-best paid player in IPL history at 17 Crore and he’ll also be their captain.
Lucknow are one of the IPL betting outsiders at odds of 11.0 with 10CRIC.
We’ll have to wait and see what odds he is to be IPL top run scorer. But whatever odds they are, you shouldn’t be betting against him, given his truly outstanding IPL record.