Renowned commentator Ian Bishop feels that Punjab were right to open with Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul, at the expense of batting Chris Gayle at No.3, and believes that the eventual result gives no room for complaints. Bishop feels that Mayank’s dream run justified him opening with Rahul.
After an eight-game wait, the Universe Boss Chris Gayle made his first appearance of the IPL 2020 season in Sharjah on Thursday but his entrance came with a twist as the Big Jamaican was, interestingly, asked to bat at No.3. Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul having posted five 50+ stands in the first seven games of the season meant that it was Gayle who was pushed back, despite the 41-year-old having little experience batting anywhere outside the Top 2.
Eventually, the move paid dividends as apart from Rahul and Mayank posting a 78-run stand, Gayle, too, notched up a half-century, but, nevertheless, the result did not leave Punjab devoid of criticism. Post the eight-wicket win, fans and experts were divided on the decision to bat Gayle at No.3, with many believing that the tactic from Punjab on Thursday was short-sighted.
Ian Bishop, however, ran to the defence of the KXIP think-tank and lauded the management for sticking with Mayank and Rahul as the openers. Bishop noted that Mayank’s sublime form, and his chemistry with Rahul, justified KXIP fielding him and the skipper up top.
“Had Punjab broken up the opening combination and Gayle had gone in there and scored 10 or 12, people would have jumped up and down, asking why they broke up a good partnership. Now that they’ve kept it together, I don’t think we should complain. Because Mayank and Rahul have gone so well this season. Mayank Agarwal is going like a bus - he is batting so brilliantly. I can see why they did it and it did work. You can’t blame the late finish to the game on the Mayank-Rahul partnership,” Bishop said on ESPN Cricinfo’s “T20 Time-Out”.
While Gayle’s batting position invoked discussion, the batting position of his counterpart, AB de Villiers, left the internet in ruins. RCB sent in de Villiers in the 16th over, at No.6, to ‘shield’ him from the leg-spinners and the move backfired as the right-hander perished after just five balls. Virat Kohli and RCB have come under fire for the wrong-gone tactic and Bishop reckoned that instead of going on the defensive, RCB need to embrace de VIlliers’ greatness and put their complete trust on him to succeed.
“If it happens again where RCB are up against a team with two leg spinners, because I’m sure if opponents have that option it will happen again, I would want RCB to trust AB de Villiers’ greatness and get him in earlier. Regardless of whether you need a finisher, if ABD can spend time and then finish, it’s much better. He and RCB have got to trust his greatness,” the 52-year-old said.
For the second game running, Kohli’s strike rate came under the scanner as after batting with a SR of 117 versus KKR, the RCB skipper, on Thursday, only managed to score 48 off 39 balls, striking just three boundaries. But despite the scorecard suggesting otherwise, Bishop asserted that Kohli was unlucky to have not scored quicker and claimed that the RCB skipper showed a lot of intent to up the ante.
“I don’t think Kohli intended to bat slowly. I saw him on several occasions trying to hit a boundary, trying to get the ball through the infield, it didn’t happen. He couldn’t adjust as he would have liked, to the surface. To me, there was a lot more intent there than the actual strike rate showed. No problem, the bowlers were just too good on the surface to allow Kohli to get away today.”