What would you have said if someone told you Ajinkya Rahane will be at the top of the strike-rate charts in the Indian Premier League 2023 season, more than 30 matches into the tournament?

Chances are no one could have seen that coming. But that is the reality as Rahane has a stunning strike rate if 199.04 after five knocks for Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2023. The latest installment in a series of quickfire innings was an audacious 71* off 29 balls at Eden Gardens against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.

Batting at No 3 for CSK this season, Rahane got a chance to play when Moeen Ali fell ill ahead of the clash against Mumbai Indians at Wankhede. From a 27-ball 61 that day, it was evident Rahane was in good touch. And the half century in Kolkata was even more jaw-dropping as he brought out the classic shots he is known for, plus some fancy ramp and scoop shots too.

CSK were powered by Rahane, Devon Conway and Shivam Dube to a total of 235/4 in 20 overs. Eventually, the colossal target proved to be too much for CSK for KKR to chase as MS Dhoni and Co won by 49 runs.

Top three SRs for IPL 2023 (min 100 runs)

Player Inns Runs HS BF SR 4s 6s
Ajinkya Rahane CSK 5 209 71* 105 199.04 18 11
Shardul Thakur KKR 5 101 68 51 198.03 12 4
Glenn Maxwell RCB 7 253 77 134 188.80 13 23

One of the notable changes in Rahane’s approach has been how quick he has been to get off the gates. In the first 10 balls, he is striking at more than 160.00, as per CricViz. And it only gets better from there.

Best SRs for CSK in an IPL knock (min 50 runs)

Player Runs Balls 4s 6s SR Opposition Ground Match Date
Raina 87 25 12 6 348.00 v KXIP Wankhede 30 May 2014
Rayudu 72* 27 4 7 266.66 v MI Delhi 1 May 2021
Dhoni 51* 20 6 2 255.00 v MI Bengaluru 23 May 2012
Rahane 71* 29 6 5 244.82 v KKR Eden Gardens 23 Apr 2023
Billings 56 23 2 5 243.47 v KKR Chennai 10 Apr 2018
Dube 50 21 2 5 238.09 v KKR Eden Gardens 23 Apr 2023
via ESPNCricinfo

Here are some reactions to Rahane’s knock vs KKR: