More often than not, particularly of late, RCB-SRH contests have ended in tears for fans of the former but on Monday, the trend finally broke in Dubai. SRH imploded in RCB-esque manner but there were a lot of learnings from the game, including the Reds being incomplete without a certain Moeen.
RCB ‘finally’ might have found their man up top
Mayank Agarwal, Parthiv Patel, Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra - the sheer number of Indian openers RCB have employed over the years is, quite honestly, absurd. In KL Rahul it looked like they finally found one, but he ended up deserting them in the worst time imaginable. But dare I say they might have now ‘finally’ found their man in the form of Devdutt Padikkal. Debuts, nerves and jitters go hand-in-hand, but in his first ever appearance on the big stage, the southpaw looked like he had the world at his feet. His knock had everything - class, grace, arrogance, confidence, swag, intelligence, power-hitting; you name it. So often Syed Mushtaq Ali heroes have turned out to be zeroes in the IPL, but not Padikkal. The youngster displayed confidence and range of hitting second to none in the RCB side and, mind you, this is a team which boasts of Kohli, de Villiers and Finch. One thing’s crystal clear: Kohli and RCB will be unrescuable if they somehow end up not getting the best out of this youngster.
Moeen Ali ‘needs’ to play in this RCB side
The single biggest takeaway from today’s encounter was that this RCB side simply cannot do without Moeen Ali - not for his all-round ability, but for his firepower with the bat. That they ended up scoring just 163 in their first innings despite getting off to a flyer - 86/0 after 10 overs - and despite de Villiers firing spoke volumes of how thin and unreliable their lower-order is, and how Kohli got his selections and tactics wrong. For starters, playing Josh Philippe - an opener of the Jason Roy mould, who looks to take advantage of field restrictions - at No.6 was a mistake, but what should bother Kohli is the abject display of Shivam Dube, who not for the first time against decent bowling, looked like he did not know how to hold the bat. Dube failed to connect all of his 8 balls and the situation begged for Moeen, who had a strike rate of 165.41 in IPL 2019. One can only hope that the RCB skipper learns from his mistake by the time RCB’s next encounter beckons; they ain’t getting anywhere with his combination.
SRH might struggle on the pace front this season - big time
Sunrisers not opting to strengthen their pace battery in the auction raised eyebrows, and if their performance today is evidence to go by, then the decision might haunt them as we get deep into the season. Barring Bhuvneshwar Kumar - who was outstanding, conceding just 25 off his four overs - the pace attack looked largely toothless, both with the new ball and towards the death. While Sandeep Sharma seemed to have lost the prodigal movement with the new ball that he once used to generate effortlessly, Natarajan’s cutters posed all but little trouble for the RCB batters, who read the Tamil Nadu pacer with ease. With Khaleel Ahmed - who despite taking wickets aplenty was expensive last season - and Billy Stanlake - who hasn’t impressed for club and country in almost two years - the only available backups, Warner’s men might find themselves in deep waters as the season progresses. They better hope for Sandeep and the rest to magically up their game, for, otherwise, they’d have Vijay Shankar delivering cordial trundlers - and no-balls - at will.
Virat Kohli has no trust in Washington Sundar
Three matches last season, in which he bowled just 54 balls and batted twice, and a solitary over today after once again not making an appearance with the bat. My question to Virat Kohli is this: why oh why do you pick Washington Sundar in the team if you’re not going to utilize him? He is, as things stand, a player Kohli simply does not trust - with both bat and ball. Truth be told, Sundar did well to just concede seven runs off his over after Pandey tonked him for a six off the second ball and, in all fairness, should have bowled a couple more, at least. It is mind-numbing that Kohli chose to bowl Umesh over the off-spinner, despite the pacer having gone for 35 off his first 3 overs. If this is all Sundar is going to do in the team, Kohli and RCB would be much better off giving an extended run to someone like a Gurkeerat Singh Mann; at least that would strengthen the lower-order.