IPL 2022: Faf, Kohli must take a leaf out of Karthik's book

In RCB, the senior pros need to draw inspiration from Karthik if this year's campaign is to be meaningful, writes Ayaz Memon

By Ayaz Memon

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Virat Kohli has failed to convert his starts in the IPL so far this season. (BCCI)
Virat Kohli has failed to convert his starts in the IPL so far this season. (BCCI)

Published: Tue 19 Apr 2022, 12:54 AM

The Royal Challengers Bangalore overcame the Delhi Capitals in their previous match, showing both pizazz and pluck. Dinesh Karthik’s sizzling pyrotechnics with the bat pulled the team out of a deep crisis. RCB’s bowlers — Josh Hazlewood, Harshal Patel and Wanindu Hasaranga — then responded magnificently in the field to quell the Capitals’ charge and even Virat Kohli made a mark with a stupendous catch to dismiss Rishabh Pant.

Bangalore may have overcome a big hurdle, but they run into an even bigger one tonight against Lucknow Super Giants. New entrants to the IPL, LSG have been among the most consistent teams this season, occupying a position in the top four in the points table from the start.

As the tournament has progressed, LSG’s strengths have come to the fore — a good blend of youth and experience, depth in batting and bowling, and diverse skills which allow them to put a well-rounded, balanced playing XI in the park every time.

Four wins from six matches suggest LSG are ticking most boxes every time.

This manifested most impressively in the victory over former champions Mumbai Indians in their previous match. The batting, led by skipper KL Rahul with a brilliant century, helped put up a stiff target for MI.

LSG’s bowlers followed this up with a splendid show, probing and restrictive in equal measure to quash MI’s hopes of breaking the duck and getting the first points of the season.

It’s a powerful side. The batting features Rahul, Quinton de Kock, Evin Lewis, Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Marcus Stoinis, Ayush Badoni. The main bowlers are Avesh Khan, Dushmantha Chameera, Jason Holder, Ravi Bishnoi and Krunal Pandya. Stoinis and Hooda can pitch in with a few overs, Holder and Pandya have good renown as batsmen. Importantly, most of these players are in sparkling form.

To get past this team, RCB will have to show vast improvement. While both teams are level on points after six games each, LSG’s four wins have come with consummate ease while RCB have had to huff and puff to most of their victories. It would be fair, in fact, to say that without the marvellous batting of Karthik, RCB may well have had three wins fewer, and struggling badly at this stage.

In six matches Karthik has been dismissed just once and has scored 197 runs at a strike rate of almost 210. These stats prove his spectacular form, yet they do not tell the complete story. In every match, he’s walked into a crisis, and almost every time bailed his team out.

In three weeks of IPL, he has not only enhanced his credentials as a finisher but has also raised a serious demand for his return to the Indian team for this year’s T20 World Cup.

Others in RCB, especially the senior pros, need to draw inspiration from Karthik if this year’s campaign is to be meaningful for a franchise that have yet to win the IPL title.

Skipper Faf du Plessis and Kohli have looked in decent touch, but none of them have shown consistency, losing their wickets cheaply in spite of getting starts.

Mohammed Siraj, retained for his swing and seam prowess, has been just too expensive even if he has picked up wickets every now and then.

Maxwell, Patel, newcomer Shahbaz Ahmed, Hasaranga and Hazlewood in the previous match have lived up to expectations, but RCB need to be more cohesive and consistent to be serious contenders for the top honours. Tonight’s match should be an index to what lies ahead of them.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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