After winning the first game from the jaws of defeat, RCB returned back to being RCB as they were mauled at the hands of Kings XI Punjab, who opened their account in IPL 2020. KL Rahul stole the show as he made an emphatic 132 not out to propel his side to a massive score of 206 runs.
Umesh should not be playing for RCB
Test cricket is one of the formats where Umesh Yadav has been a revelation for India, especially in home games, with his ability to extract reverse swing. Keeping that in mind, it's high time Umesh takes a break from white-ball cricket and continues focussing on the longer version of the game. Because he has been too wayward and poor for such a long period of time, particularly for RCB, so much so that even a Siraj looks like a better option at the moment. How long will RCB keep picking him for his 2018 IPL exploits? (20 wickets in 14 games). And then RCB fans wonder why the Reds never win the silverware.
Yadav is a considered a striker in powerplay overs with the ability to pick wickets with brand hard new cherry but with 17 runs off two overs and quite a few come-hit-me-with-ease-deliveries, he was taken off and as a result, an enforcer like Saini had to bowl two overs in first six overs. Not to forget, he was smashed for 48 runs in the last game against SRH. In 2019 IPL, he had taken merely eight wickets in 11 games, giving away 9.81 runs per over. His overall death overs economy in IPL remains as high as 10.4 and now if he can't deliver early blows for his side, only god knows why he is persisted with. He ended with 35 runs in three overs with Kohli trusting Dube over him for the final over.
KL Rahul taking it all on himself
If you look at KL Rahul batting for KXIP in IPL from 2019, you wonder and feel if he's doing a Sachin Tendulkar for India of the 1990s, burdened with the hopes and expectations of millions on his shoulders. Obviously, I didn't mean literally but KL Rahul has been playing well within himself, to a point of being unrecognizable from the free-flowing and swashbuckling batsman that he was for the Kings in the 2018 edition of the league, which created this big reputation of his in T20 cricket. Who can forget his 16-ball-51 against Delhi?
But by the looks of it, it's quite clear that he will reprise his role of anchor this IPL as well. It's a role that saw his strike-rate falling from 158.41 in 2018 to 135.39 last year, but today, he corrected the wrongs of 2019, cashed in on his start and cut loose towards the end. The stylish batsman held himself back in the powerplay overs, and kept playing on the merit of ball and only threw caution to the wind in the final few overs, where he treated RCB bowlers akin to some third-rate club bowlers tonking them all over the park with the ease of a freak. His batting was a poetic relief in the desert of UAE. Rahul ended with a majestic 132* off 69 deliveries. He made 60 runs off the last 18 deliveries he faced, hitting six maximums at death.
Virat Kohli can also have horror days
It has to be one of the most disastrous days of Virat Kohli's cricket career, at least since I first saw the prodigal kid make waves in cricket, winning his country the Under-19 World Cup in 2008. He has been such a champion cricketer that he does unbelievable things day-in-day-out. But today is a day, which he would rather want to forget. The RCB skipper made some poor calls like giving Shivam Dube the final over, who gave away 23 runs, asking Saini to deliver two overs in the powerplay despite his reputation of being an enforcer in the middle-overs and giving just two overs to Sundar, who had given away just 13 runs. Not playing Moeen was also not the best of decisions especially if he wasn't going to bowl Sundar more. He could have asked ABDv to keep wickets and dropped Philippe to accommodate Ali.
Not only did he fail on the captaincy front, he also had a nightmarish time in the the field dropping sitters to reprieve Rahul on 83 and 89 respectively. Rahul ended up making 43 runs off 14 deliveries after the second drop and took a 170-180 looking like total to 206 runs. Then, after promoting youngster Josh Philippe to no.3 slot in a pressure chase of 207 runs than batting himself at 3, Kohli got out on 1, replicating his last game failure. In fact, even last year, the Indian skipper had just averaged 33.14 with the bat. He desparately needs to get back to his best.
AB de Villiers' struggle against leggies
One of the things that is rare and made AB de Villiers surreal has been his ability to master all the conditions, countries and different bowling types. But of late, he has had his struggles against leg-spin. Since 2018 IPL, ABDv has had a strike-rate of 85 against googlies and today again, he was undone by M Ashwin's googly as he made the long walk back to the pavilion after holing out to Sarfaraz Khan on 28 off 18 after looking in great rhythm all the while and being hardly troubled by anyone.
On checking further I found out that the South African batsman has been averaging 25.8 with a strike-rate of 126.6 against leg-spinners in IPL, which has now started becoming more and more evident as he is getting out to this bowling type more often than not. Against all other bowling types viz. fast, medium, offbreak, chinaman, orthodox, his average and SR have been impeccable, with 42.8 being his second-worst average (versus other bowlers) after 25.8 against leggies. The right-hander will need to bounce back strongly against wrist-spinners before more and more teams start employing leg-spin centric strategy against him.