Cricket has many legends and the list is never ending but when you narrow it down to T20s, very few will crop up in what could be said as a young format of the gentleman's game.
Talking about T20s and legends of the format, very few will be ahead of the line than New Zealand's Brendon McCullum. From his swashbuckling 158 in the opening match of the Indian Premier League back in 2008 to flying around the field and scoring over 2000 international runs in the format McCullum awed everyone with his skills.
And, one such person was KL Rahul.Having a major throwback ahead of IPL 2019, Rahul remembered how McCullum's 73-ball 158 in the inaugural game of the IPL blew him away and made him try to reinvent himself with the willow in his hand."I was in the stadium as a 16-year-old boy watching the game. Brendon McCullum got a 158 with the kind of batting that we had never ever seen or witnessed before. Obviously, the flavour and madness of T20 began with the 2008 IPL season."
"For us as youngsters, it was unbelievable. After that is when I started practising hitting sixes, reverse sweeps and scoop shots. That is one of my first IPL memories and one of my favourites," Rahul told Redbull.Rahul has blown hot and cold and has also been embroiled in controversies recently but the talent has always been there and the IPL has got the best out of him.Starting off at Sunrisers Hyderabad, the stylish right-hander had a tough time from 2013 to 2015 but after moving to Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2016, his life changed.The Karnataka player hammered 397 runs in the 2016 season in a star-studded RCB team at an average of 44.1 and all he feels that the year was magical.
"I got a call at 9:20 am when the auction was to start at 9:30 am. I remember very clearly that I was at my friend Varun Aaron's wedding and they called me saying, 'We have transferred you to RCB. We are sorry because we have other plans and we don't see you fitting into our plans. You will get better chances in RCB.'
"I got transferred last minute from Hyderabad to Bangalore," he said remembering his last-minute move to RCB in 2016.
"I was very happy to be back home in Bangalore. That year was just so good for me. I didn't start off the season but I came into the tournament by the fifth or sixth game. I got my first IPL 50 in Gujarat while batting with Virat, and then I went on to score four consecutive 50s. "At one point in the season, we needed to win five out of six games to go to the next stage, and we ended up winning all of the matches. We went on to play the final and lost to Hyderabad, but 2016 was a magical year for me because it turned my whole career around."But, all good things don't last and after missing the 2017 season due to injury, he moved to Kings XI Punjab in 2018 and again...he owned the stage and this time, a tad better.
Being bought for Rs 11 crore, the responsibility on his shoulders to carry the franchise was huge but he lived up to it, smashing 659 runs from 14 games.
"Last year was also very special individually. I played for Punjab and got over 600 runs in the season. I also got the record for the fastest 50 in the IPL last season. So there are a lot of really good memories for me," Rahul said.This year again, a lot is at stake for him. A good show could confirm a ticket for the 2019 World Cup in England as the third opener or a middle-order player but a bad one could just push him down the pecking order. But, with confidence in his kitty and the backing of the franchise, the 26-year-old would be hoping to start where he left off the previous year.