Kings XI Punjab's (KXIP) KL Rahul during a practice session
Kings XI Punjab's (KXIP) KL Rahul during a practice session. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: When it comes to talent, not many can question what India batsman KL Rahul brings to the table. But a couple of failures at the start of this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) saw critics questioning his form as also if this would ultimately see him miss the bus for the World Cup. After all, the Kings XI Punjab batsman is in the race to fill the No. 4 slot in the national set-up for the showpiece event in England, starting on May 30.

Rahul silenced his critics with a match-winning knock against Mumbai Indians in Mohali on Saturday. His unbeaten innings of 71 not only saw Kings XI win the game, but once again showed that this youngster is just too good to miss out for long.

Rahul said that a couple of games don’t really mean much in a long tournament like the IPL and it was all about getting that one innings to turn things around. More importantly, he said that he isn’t willing to let the No. 4 slot in the World Cup squad distract him.

“As players it is important that we try and perform well for our respective IPL franchises and team,” he said. “It is also very important to stay in the present. If you do well, you are automatically in the race for selection. But if you worry about the selection, then you put too much pressure on yourself. I am not somebody who is thinking too much about the World Cup spot. I just want to perform for KXIP and enjoy the IPL. T20 cricket is all about having fun.”

When it comes to the pressure of expectation and the criticism after a couple of failures, Rahul said he doesn’t let what people are saying outside get to him and he tries to keep working hard.

“I don’t know anything about too much pressure or anything,” he said. “It was only two games so the talks don’t get to me and I don’t read them. Yes, it is always disappointing not to score and get off to a good start. But then, it is a long tournament and it is all about working hard and one good knock helps you to get back to scoring.”

There have been talks that Rahul has tried to play one shot too many in recent times and that led to his failure. But the opener defends his decision and says that playing aggressively is important in a format like T20 cricket.

“It is T20 cricket, you have to try and play a few shots,” he said. “You have to attack and make best use of the first six overs and as a result you might end up playing a few bad shots and these things are bound to happen. You cannot really worry too much about it and you learn from your mistakes. You have to play aggressively as it is T20 cricket and you can’t play in any other way. Have to keep your chin up and look forward.”