Sunday was one of those rare days for Kochi Tuskers Kerala when nothing clicked. They were asked to bat first by Rajasthan Royals just after Brendon McCullum pulled out with a shoulder injury, leaving skipper Mahela Jayawardene the task of steering the innings.
However, the Sri Lanka stalwart departed early, leaving the middle order batsmen to accomplish a task that proved to be beyond them.
The inept batting display revealed how vital Jayawardene and McCullum are to Kochi. And regardless of the efforts put in by VVS Laxman, Parthiv Patel or Ravindra Jadeja, scoring consistently at a brisk rate has been a problem if Jayawardene and McCullum don't open the batting together. Till date (see box), they have opened the batting thrice, and Kochi have won all.
With McCullum still unsure for Wednesday’s home match against Deccan Chargers, a replacement might be sought.
Laxman was preferred over Australian Michael Klinger against Rajasthan Royals. “With the wicket being slow, we thought Laxman could be an asset,” said Jayawardene.
But in Kochi, where the pitch offers some assistance to fast bowlers, Klinger could be in the race to make his debut.
England batsman Owais Shah too is in contention but Klinger, 30, has had a good domestic season in Australia. One of the architects of South Australia's Twenty20 Big Bash win, he was on fire in the final against a strong New South Wales. His strike rate of over 130 is a huge plus point.