"Look, I think strike rate is very, very overrated. For me, it's only about how I can win games for my team."
How can you not begin with that quote when Rahul wears the Orange Cap with 387 runs at a strike rate of 134.84, while his team sits at the bottom of the IPL table with just one win in seven games?
How can you not draw a line connecting all the runs Rahul has scored, and his manner of scoring them, with his team's results?
There are other factors behind where Kings XI sit halfway through their league campaign. Their bowling, for one, particularly in the death overs. But think of it this way: Rahul has been on strike for 287 of the 824 balls faced by Kings XI's batsmen this season. That's just under 35% of all the balls they have faced. No other batsman has had as much influence on how their team's innings have been shaped. No bowler, by the simple fact that they are restricted to delivering at most a fifth of their team's overs, has had a comparable influence.
An overall strike rate of 134.84 doesn't sound terrible. But over the first 30 balls of all his innings, he's made 195 off 174 balls, at a strike rate of 112.07. Keep in mind that if he has faced 30 balls, he's used up a fourth of his team's quota of deliveries.
It isn't that Rahul can't play any other way. In IPL 2018, he had a first-six-overs (powerplay) strike rate of 157.57. Since then there's been a perceptible shift in approach, with his strike rate in that phase dropping to 120.83 in 2019 and 116.00 this year.
There are reasons behind why he is playing this way, of course.
One, Rahul and the Kings XI management probably believe he has the game to make up for his slow starts if he spends a certain amount of time at the crease. So he has a certain allowance to put a price on his wicket - a bit of a luxury in T20s - and play risk-free cricket for a certain amount of time.
When it comes off, it can be spectacular. For instance, he smashed 42 off the last nine balls of his innings against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and finished with 132 not out off 69.
But how often will he get that deep into his innings, and once there, how often will he explode as spectacularly? Rahul made 90 off 39 (strike rate 230.77) after crossing the 30-ball mark against the Royal Challengers, but in the three other games where he's gotten to that point of his innings, he's made 32 off 24 (against the Rajasthan Royals), 31 off 22 (against the Chennai Super Kings) and, on Saturday against the Knight Riders, 39 off 28.
"Compare the situations Maxwell has walked into with the relative blank slates Rahul has at the start of his innings, and you might begin to see that different types of players get judged by different standards in T20 cricket. Recognising that, ask yourself this: what exactly does being the leading run-getter in a T20 league mean if your team has lost six out of seven games?"
That's not a whole lot of payoff. And if Virat Kohli hadn't dropped him twice just before he went on that late blitz against the Royal Challengers, Rahul would have finished with 83 off 55 (41 off 25 after the 30-ball mark) or 89 off 59 (47 off 29).
Rahul certainly can make up for slow starts, but he hasn't been doing it consistently this season. It can't be easy for anyone to bat with a certain rhythm for a significant length of time and suddenly change their approach and pull it off time and again.
The second reason behind Rahul's approach could be that he's often batted alongside someone scoring rapidly enough to make him - or the team management - believe that his best role is to give that batsman the strike and keep the partnership going. Mayank Agarwal has been the quicker-scoring partner in two century opening stands this season, and in both games, Kings XI seemed to be in an impregnable position when he and Rahul were at the crease.
Kings XI, however, have lost both those matches. It's not an unexpected outcome. Data drawn from all seasons of the IPL shows that long partnerships with one partner scoring slowly are often counterproductive. Perhaps Rahul and the Kings XI know this, but feel it's the only option left to them. That could be another reason behind Rahul's approach. He may be batting in this manner because the Kings XI either don't bat that deep - they have played an extra bowler in their last two games and ended up with a long tail - or don't trust their middle and lower order to build on smaller but more explosive starts from their top order.
That the Kings XI sent in Prabhsimran Singh - who had 258 runs in 15 T20 innings, at a strike rate of 139.45, before Saturday - and not Glenn Maxwell when they needed 21 from 16 against the Knight Riders would suggest they haven't invested a whole lot of trust in at least one of their regular middle-order batsmen.
The fact that Maxwell had only made 48 off 56 balls over six innings before Saturday might suggest that the Kings XI had a reason to not trust him, but that begs two questions: One, why play him at all? And two, could his lack of form and rhythm have something to do with how the Kings XI have used him, or at least be part of the same vicious cycle?
Maxwell came into this IPL season having just played two counterattacking, match-winning knocks - 77 off 59 and 108 off 90 - in three ODIs against England. T20 is an entirely different format, but that sort of ball-striking form surely can't just disappear so quickly.
But it can get misplaced if you're playing in entirely different conditions, and you walk in time and again with not a lot of time to get used to those conditions.
In three out of his seven IPL innings this season, Maxwell has finished not out having faced fewer than ten balls. On three of the other four occasions - against the Delhi Capitals, the Mumbai Indians and the Sunrisers Hyderabad - he's failed to make a significant contribution after walking in with the Kings XI struggling in chases. He's not been at or even close to his best, but he's usually not come in with time to play himself in.
It's the job description of the middle-order hitter in T20s, of course: a lot to do in not a lot of time. But compare the situations Maxwell has walked into with the relative blank slates Rahul has at the start of his innings, and you might begin to see that different types of players get judged by different standards in T20 cricket. Recognising that, ask yourself this: what exactly does being the leading run-getter in a T20 league mean if your team has lost six out of seven games?