DUAL INTERVIEW with Nikhil and Johns

The first couple of weeks of IPL has been outstanding to watch as almost all the games have been extremely competitive and we have already seen two superovers in the first 20 matches of this tournament.

This is a unique dual based interview article where Nikhil and Johns share their thoughts on each teams and give their opinion on how they have gone about in this IPL 2020 so far.

Thank You so much for your participation in this unique interview, so the first three weeks of the IPL are done, what do you guys make of the tournament so far?

Nikhil – I believe it’s going to be one of the most dramatic IPL’s that we have seen, the teams at the bottom are all experienced ones and once the pitches start to slow down, the likes of CSK, SRH will start to climb that ladder. Of course, they will need the wins now to stay afloat, but it is going to be a crazy finish. Not ruling out a new winner!

Johns – Thanks a lot for inviting me into this episode of reviewing IPL – It has started on a high – with some classic finishing including super over, high-class batting, some real heat pace and watching Indian stars after a long long time in the field. I thought without fans it will affect the viewers but Star has done a good job, still areas to be worked out but doing a fine job. I am looking forward to a great finish with teams deciding to playoffs in the final week.

Kings XI Punjab are a team filled with T20 specialists like Gayle, Maxwell, Pooran, Mujeeb and many others, yet they haven’t clicked so far in the first three weeks, plus, they are at the bottom of the table, what do you guys make of their performance?

Nikhil – I think they have batted fairly well but have not had the bite in the bowling which was always going to be the case. They had to out-bat teams and KL has felt the pressure of Maxwell, lower-order not firing. So onus on the lower order to step up and they can then be back on track.

Johns – Kings Eleven Punjab is hugely dependant on batting unit and new ball bowler in this year but with KL Rahul going with a conservative approach and looking to go big in last 2 overs has been affecting the side badly and inconsistency of Glenn Maxwell in finishing as well. Shami and Cottrell have been doing a fine job with the new ball and middle overs but it has been disappointing from Jordan especially he is known for his death bowling skill in International cricket. Mayank and Ravi Bishnoi have been huge positives for them but the big issue has been too many chopping and changing in line-up especially dropping Jordan after one match then trying Neesham, then they played Murugan Ashwin one match then again brought back Jordan, then bowling Jordan in powerplay especially when his strength has been with fielders protecting the boundary line.

This Delhi Capitals is really a team to watch out for, do you guys agree? They have got good core of Indian players in the top order along with some good finishers too. Plus their South African bowling duo – KG and Nortje seem to have done well so far.

Nikhil – Yes, Nortje I think will go down as one of the best IPL replacements ever. And yes Delhi have shaped up well. Few players who have not performed to their best like Shimron and even Pant so imagine if they come good, Delhi will be unbeatable. They need to keep doing small things right, they are likely to play the final too, so let’s hope they don’t have the bad day then.

Johns – Delhi Capitals had lucky escapes with Woakes and Roy pulling out they had the option of bringing Nortje and Sams into the side which made them stronger – with the Indian core they played both quicks from Africa and has been asking lots of questions to the opposition. They are having quite a good bowling attack and depth in the bench which is making them even stronger. Pant yet to make it big but has been contributing and the biggest surprise has been the form of Stoinis helping them to finish the innings.

Rajasthan Royals may have missed the services of Ben Stokes so far, what do you think of their performance? Also this is the team that have created history achieving highest successful run chase in IPL thanks to that Tewatia innings, one of the best games y’all have ever seen?

Nikhil – One of the best games… maybe but one of the craziest comebacks in IPL? For sure. I don’t think I have seen, the same man, going from hero to villain in the same inning and in that fashion. It was the game’s way of slapping us keyboard warriors on how it’s called the game of uncertainties for a reason. For the Royals, I think they are too top-heavy and need to let go of Robin or break the top three they have now. Smith needs to anchor from 3. Stokes returning may help but they need their middle order and Indian bowling to back up Archer.

Johns – Rajasthan Royals don’t have much experience in Indian core and inconsistency hurting them a lot – Ben Stokes unavailability had made the middle order thin but he hasn’t been up to his best in last two years for RR. Riyan Parag was the find of last season but he hasn’t been treating well and Smith trying too much followed by the inconsistency of Samson hurting them badly. They are an exciting bunch but inexperience in big stage and consistency is the biggest issue.

What about Kolkata Knight Riders? They haven’t performed at their full potential yet, don’t you think? Also Sunil Gavaskar said that if Dinesh Karthik doesn’t perform properly, the management can hand over the captaincy to Eoin Morgan and they can bring in some other Indian batsman in the lineup, your thoughts on this?

Nikhil – I think DK is the only on-field captain, as the case with Rohit, Iyer. It is Baz who is taking the calls. Some of their tactics have been baffling but maybe desperate times may call for desperate measures. DK needs to bat to the situation more than his role. So that will be key for KKR. And the form of their spinners.

Johns – Kolkata Knight Riders have been tailor-made for Eden but still the consistency of Morgan and Gill has been giving them the hope – they need to work out on their batting order with multiple failures for Narine, whether Karthik should come early with both has been failures in this year. DK is best known for his finishing skills in last 4 overs but he has been taking too much risk and trying to bat early. Performance of Mavi, Nagarkoti, Varun has been promising but they need to sort out the batting soon.

Mumbai Indians, as usual, they lost their first game but then they have done really well with bat and ball, plus their captain is amongst the runs too. What do you make of their performance?

Nikhil – They are a well-oiled machine which is well looked after. They have got the best out of Pattinson and Boult too. With the Pandya brothers scoring, only Mumbai can stop Mumbai. Kieron Pollard’s form is going to win them the title if one can say that.

Johns – Mumbai Indians continues to do what they did in 2019 – they read the conditions well before the tournament and bring Pattinson for Malinga and it has paid off with NCN getting injured and Pattinson pace has been troubling many of them in the league – the core remains the same for them with 2 overseas quick, Indian spinners, the engine room of Krunal, Hardik, Pollard for finishing and De Kock, Rohit, Suryakumar for anchoring and Ishan as a bridge between them.

Sunrisers Hyderabad have couple of issues to figure out, how do you rate their performance so far? They have a fine talent in the form of Thangarasu Natarajan who has bowled some amazing yorkers, your thoughts on his bowling?

Nikhil – He’s been good right from his TNPL days. Pleased to see an Indian do well at the death. For SRH, they need Pandey to raise his game for Warner to play freely. That will make them express themselves well with the bat and once pitches slow down, their bowling is good enough to win them games.

Johns – Sunrisers were badly hit with Bhuvi’s injury and leaving it as inexperienced Indian pace attack along with Rashid Khan. The middle-order has been a big issue for them so they have to sacrifice the balance and play Kane at 4 by dropping Nabi. It has made some issues for the 5th bowling option. And top 3 not making it big and inconsistency has been their problem so far but Natarajan has been the biggest positive with nailing those yorkers in death overs.

Bangalore have been off to a good start and they seem to have that confidence of winning every game that they play. How do you rate their performance?

Nikhil – For a change, Bangalore has not chopped and changed too much. Defined roles, not too many changes every game, tells you both Virat and Hesson have struck a chord at least. Once Morris returns, the team has most bases covered. A lot though will rely on how well they execute their plans as they do have a history of letting down the side. And decisions at the toss and also reading pitches will remain key for them.

Johns – RCB did their homework really well in the auction and got some very good balance. They paid most for Morris but he is yet to join the side still they won 3 out 5 so far. Padikkal’s form has been the biggest positive and it has reduced the pressure of AB and Kohli – if Finch can try to attack from word go it will make it easier for batting lineup. Death bowling has been a big issue but with Morris coming back soon they will be hoping to tick that box. They have been using the bowling in their strength with Sundar in PP, Siraj after Power play making them one of the best sides to watch out in the season. Yuzi Chahal has been the go-to man for Kohli every time when they are in struggle and he continues to be the attacking + wicket-taking option is a good sign for them.

Chennai Super Kings won their first game but then there is nothing more to show apart from that amazing knock by Faf and Watson to win the match against Punjab, how do you rate their performance?

Nikhil – CSK have been going against the tide since their comeback in 2018. They have defined their game and you can say they are too rigid to change that. Their way means your player has to come good collectively and it helps that MS makes them comfortable in their roles first. That didn’t happen with Vijay and Kedar’s form remains a worry. For CSK to win, they will need Kedar, Jadeja, Bravo to keep performing. Sam could be the spark but he needs to be used better.

Johns – CSK have a major hit with Raina pulling out – only left-hander in top 6 and power play option – Harbhajan Singh, but started the reason well with the win vs Mumbai but the injury to Rayudu hit them badly and top-order other than faf continue to do badly like 2019, then Dhoni playing cricket after one year showed signs that he is not in good touch then lacked a wicket-taker in middle overs with the balance they need to sit Tahir in bench and that is affecting them badly. Somehow Dhoni needs to bring him in the second half of the tournament. Sam Curran has been the surprise package so far with his all-round performance and team using him well as a batsman to counter spin. Watson has shown signs vs Punjab but he used to play these kinds of 1 or 2 memorable knock but CSK needs someone other than Faf to take the attack in top order and release the pressure which will decide their chances.

Lot of fans think that if Dhoni hasn’t quite got the practice that he needs, he should drop himself from the team and management should select someone who can perform in his stead. You cannot make a player like Dhoni out of the team, right?

Nikhil – If this was India, the argument would make sense but this is IPL and a domestic tournament of international level at the end. He is CSK, CSK is him. Yes, there are others but it is his and Fleming’s philosophy that has seen them have so much success. We need to lower our expectations from a 39-year-old guy who retired from international cricket. Not everyone is a freak like AB de Villiers. Most batsmen have taken time who didn’t have enough game time. Dhoni plays his game just the time and demand has changed but our expectations remain the same. Dhoni knows his role best and has shown what he can do. It’s time we accept and expect what’s practical from him. Rest, Dhoni knows when to go, what he needs to do, hopefully, he can do that and enjoy his last few years as a player.

Johns – MS Dhoni used to start slowly in the last two IPL but used to get into a rhythm as the tournament progress but he had game time in the last two IPL season but this time he is coming without playing one match in the last one year so I think it will take time and his nature of picking and choosing the bowlers will be successful in coming weeks if he gains the confidence. There are loopholes for the most teams in their bowling attack.

There are some interesting matches coming up next week, which are the matches you will be looking forward to the most?

Nikhil – I am mostly looking forward to two contests in particular. RR vs DC – Jos on the line vs Ashwin at Sharjah and DC vs MI in Abu Dhabi – best bowling unit vs best batting unit. What a contest on the cards!

Johns – The match I am really looking forward to this week will be RCB vs CSK – RCB has improved a lot as a side with the last auction and with the flexibility they are having, will give a run of money to CSK. And it’s a marquee clash with Virat vs Dhoni – two biggest names in modern-day cricket.

Thank you so much for reading this article. If you liked this interview then do share it. You can follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/bhavsarJ2_0?s=09

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