IPL 2018: Virat Kohli’s RCB ponder failed squad shuffle ahead of KKR face-off
Brendon McCullum holds a special place in Indian Premier League (IPL) history. His unbeaten 158 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the inaugural match of the league in April 2008 gave a flying start that a new league needed.
Ten seasons later, McCullum is back at the venue where he once captured the imagination of fans across the world with his blistering batting. However, he is only on the bench now after failing in three matches.
McCullum’s KKR link
Ahead of another RCB-KKR tie here on Sunday, the New Zealand batsman, now in the home camp, would be fighting off some memories. His team is languishing at sixth in the points table while KKR are two places above them.
The former New Zealand skipper was picked to add prowess to the top-order batting as RCB looked to replace an ageing Chris Gayle, who had not clicked over the last two seasons.
However, Gayle is back in form in Kings XI Punjab colours even as RCB struggle to get off to flying starts. Skipper Virat Kohli, who began the season batting at No 3 has pushed himself back to the top where Quinton de Kock has been just about okay.
Add to that, RCB’s decision to let go off the big-hitting KL Rahul, who too is in KXIP and doing well, leaves a lot on the shoulders of AB de Villiers. On the other hand, Sarfaraz Khan, who was retained, hasn’t got going in the middle order.
The South African star has been doing well, scoring quicker than others, especially in the 7-10-over period that is generally the most slow-scoring in T20 cricket. But it seems he will need to do a lot more as the rest of RCB players haven’t been up to scratch.
Letting go Watson
RCB also seem to have blundered by not picking Aussie all-rounder Shane Watson, who didn’t have a great IPL 2017 season. Watson had been an important cog in RCB’s wheel over the last few seasons, picking 20 wickets in 2016. RCB miss him as their bowling is in tatters.
Watson, on his part, is doing wonders for Chennai Super Kings this year with bat and ball. His form with CSK must have left Kohli contemplating as the RCB skipper is struggling not just to add bite to his bowling that has lacked depth, but also to have some good hitters late in the innings. Watson would have performed both these jobs with aplomb.
RCB tried Kiwi all-rounder Corey Anderson in the last few matches but with disastrous results. In fact, he and paceman Mohammed Siraj let MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings snatch a win from the jaws of defeat.
Perhaps one player who may get a look-in on Sunday is England’s off-spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali.
That KKR are coming off a couple of losses should give RCB some comfort. The Dinesh Karthik-led side’s bowling looked toothless in the last two games, especially against Delhi Daredevils on Friday.
That gives Kohli and Co a ray of hope.
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