Punjab Kings CEO Satish Menon revealed that RCB’s decision to let KL Rahul go took the whole league aback and added that Punjab went all-in for the Karnataka man, very well knowing that he’ll be a future star. Menon described Rahul as one of the ‘best emerging captains’ in world cricket.
A 24-year-old KL Rahul endured a breakthrough season with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2016, striking 397 runs at an astonishing SR of 146.49, but, after missing the subsequent 2017 season due to injury, the right-hander was released by the franchise ahead of the 2018 mega auction, owing to auction dynamics. The release led Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) to snap up Rahul for INR 11 crore and the rest, as they say, is history. The wicket-keeper batsman accumulated 1,252 runs for the franchise across the first two seasons and his ludicrous returns saw the club make Rahul the full-time skipper of the franchise ahead of his third season at the club, in which he ended up winning the orange cap.
Punjab have the claim to have made one of the best signings in the tournament’s history but, interestingly, the franchise CEO Satish Menon revealed the club initially thought that signing Rahul wouldn’t be possible. Speaking to Sports Today, Menon revealed that no one quite expected RCB to release Rahul but asserted that the Kings zeroed-in on the Karnataka batsman as ‘the man’ once they came to know that he was up for grabs.
“No one would have believed that RCB would let go of him, we picked him up with a sure-shot foresight that this guy is going to make it big," Menon told Sports Today.
"He has been training under some of the best captains the country has seen in recent times. He is a great learner.”
Rahul was named as Punjab’s skipper ahead of the 2020 edition and the decision was a big yet controversial one as it meant that the franchise had to let go of their incumbent skipper Ravichandran Ashwin. Punjab missed a play-off spot in IPL 2020 by a whisker, but Menon reserved high praise for Rahul and termed the 28-year-old as one of the shrewdest young captains going around in world cricket.
"I think he is one of the best emerging captains that you'll see in recent times, in terms of his understanding of the game. I have always believed wicket keepers have the best view of what is going on and understand the game well. This is something that Viru (Sehwag) told me,” Menon said.
Menon revealed that Rahul’s attitude played a huge part in Punjab making the 28-year-old the full-time skipper of the side. Rahul’s leadership style, according to the Punjab Kings CEO, has enabled youngsters in the side to blend-in seamlessly and help create a 'brothers-in-arms' relationship between the players.
"The other thing I saw in the two years he was not a captain is that he makes friends very fast. He is a very easy-going guy. He is one with all. He is also closer to their age, we have a lot of kids below 25, he talks the language that they understand. They all look up to him.
"I remember in one of the videos where he said 'I am a little shocked if some people call me Rahul 'bhaiya' or Rahul sir'. He said he doesn't like it. I like that because that's also my style. Despite my age, I tell people to call me by my first name. That brings a sense of saying 'I am open to listening and understanding you'. Rahul's adopting an approach in carrying people with him. He is superb, he has blossomed into a great leader."