Watching him stroke the ball with the grace and flow of a natural, you would be tempted to call K.L. Rahul, ‘The Big Easy.’

But then, is it not the name given to New Orleans for its relaxed lifestyle and soothing jazz music?

Well, Rahul’s ethereal batsmanship has ease and style and he makes beautiful music with the sound of the willow meeting the ball. 

Skipper Rahul’s 62-ball unbeaten 103 was the pivotal effort as Lucknow Super Giants sent Mumbai Indians to its eighth successive defeat, defending 168 and winning by 36 runs in the IPL clash at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

Chasing on a sluggish pitch, Rohit Sharma (39) stroked the ball with confidence – a straight drive off Dushmantha Chameera was a top shot – but he could not kick on, held at short third-man attempting to slog-sweep Krunal Pandya.

Ishan Kishan fell to a bizarre dismissal, Ravi Bishnoi’s delivery bouncing off ‘keeper Quinton de Kock’s boot from the batter’s bottom edge to Jason Holder at slip.

As it happened

Dewald Brevis, attempting an upper-cut off the lively Mohsin Khan, was held at third man. And Ayush Badoni’s off-spin, he angled the ball across the right-hander, extracted a fatal leading edge from Suryakumar Yadav.

Southpaw Tilak Varma of terrific bat-speed and sound temperament essayed some brave strokes, even as Kieron Pollard could not rediscover the hitting range of old.

When Varma was held in the deep for a 27-ball 38 off Holder, there was going to be only one winner. 

For LSG, Chameera took pace off the ball and bowled with exemplary control.   

Earlier, Rahul delighted with his footwork and poise after his side was inserted. The sphere was gloriously struck straight. 

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Rahul, all balance and artistry, dissected the field with deft touches on a surface where the ball was not quite coming on to the bat. 

The gifted Rahul picks the length early and is ready with his response. 

This was a night when he shifted weight onto his back-leg and got his body alignment right for some tremendous pull shots including one special blow off Bumrah.

When the pacemen pitched it up, they were cover-driven and whipped. Class was the name of Rahul’s game.  

Mumbai Indians fought back with its pacemen striking with slow bouncers and cutters but Rahul held the innings together. 

His gem glittered in the end. 

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