As McCullum's 158 Amended, KL Rahul, Cricketer > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - How McCullum's 158 changed KL Rahul the cricketer

After struggling in the first three IPL seasons, Rahul found success with RCB. Pic: Red Bull

When Brendon McCullum got going in the opening clash of Indian Premier League in 2008, KL Rahul, just 16 at that stage, watched in disbelief. The assault not only got the IPL caravan going but also sowed dreams in Rahul's mind.

The knock, according to Rahul, turned out to be a turning point in his career where his style of batting changed drastically. From being technically correct, he started working on aggressive strokes to enhance his game. "For us as youngsters, it was unbelievable," he told Redbull recollecting that night. "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.

"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."

After struggling in the first three seasons - from 2013 to 2015 - Rahul found success with Royal Challengers Bangalore. He scored 397 runs in the 2016 season at an average of 44.1 and a strike rate of 146.49. "I got transferred last minute from Hyderabad to Bangalore," he recollected his transfer from Sunrisers Hyderabad to RCB in 2016.

"I got a call at 9:20 am when the auction was to start at 9:30am. 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 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."

One of the major disappointments of the RCB fans has been their decision to let go of Rahul. In the 2017 auction, after Kings XI Punjab bid Rs. 11 crore for Rahul, RCB decided not to use their Right To Match card for the opener. Rahul went on to prove his worth as he smashed 659 runs at a strike rate of 158.41.

Rahul, however, stressed the stint with RCB made him feel like the "coolest person on earth". "The day when I went to sign my RCB contract papers is my next great memory. I thought it would just me signing the papers with some manager," he revealed.

"But I remember I walked into the room and there was a full team meeting with the directors; Virat Kohli was also sitting there. I walked into the room like I was the coolest person there but suddenly I saw everyone and thought, "What have I walked into?" The contract is about 20-30 pages so it took me a while to go through it.

"After that Virat came to me, put an arm around my shoulder and said, "Welcome to the team. We are going to have a blast." That was a big moment for me and also the start of my first IPL season so I think of all the cricketers I played with then; Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Zaheer Khan, and everyone else. Just getting to hang out with all of them is what I remember fondly.

"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."

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