DUAL INTERVIEW with Nikhil and Johns – IPL 2

Welcome to this second article of weekly IPL reviews. My two guests for this series – Nikhil and Johns share their perspective of how this week’s IPL has gone about in this dual interview article.

Let’s straightaway jump to the main topic of debate, KKR v CSK and CSK v RCB. Stephen Fleming and the management have some thinking to do going forward.

Nikhil – Two games CSK were in control for 65 overs and were poor for the other 15 and lost it. The issue is quite evident, the top order isn’t doing half the job at halfway point. It’s leaving too much for the middle order. The Kedar knock, management should have used batting resources better. Hopefully, they will be expressive in the coming games and not let the game meander along.

Johns – CSK is too much dependent on openers – if they can’t provide the change, the innings is going through one way traffic. And having Jagadeesan or Ruturaj in the middle order is a bit harsh as both of them are openers so they can try Faf at 4 and open with Watson and Jagadeesan. Another major concern is the wicket-taking ability in the middle order – only Imran Tahir can provide that for MS but with the combination, he is still sitting on the bench, and management needs to find a way to play him.

Talking about KKR, they have done amazingly well under pressure. In both their games this week, they managed to come back strong and pull off a win.

Nikhil – KKR have got really lucky, to be honest. They have won two games they had no business winning. Narine bowling well has helped and they will be pleased with DK’s fifty but their bowling doesn’t have the bite and better teams will hurt them harder.

Johns – KKR had made some gutsy call but the big question is that are they leaving too late especially will this work vs top sides as they won’t try Narine upfront. Karthik’s form is a really good sign for them as it will take lots of pressure away from Morgan and Russell. Another huge bonus has been the death bowling of Russell which helps the management to use Cummins in Powerplay and middle overs. Varun and Prasidh coming to the party are really good sign moving forward as they are getting the right shape and combination in the side for the latter half of the tournament.

Delhi Capitals, no doubt they are in full flow in this tournament so far. However, do you guys think the result wouldn’t have been the same if they were chasing?

Nikhil – Because only one’s they have chased in this tournament so far and they lost that game against SRH. Like is the trend, chasing has been hard, and teams bowling first really need to attack like MI did vs DC. The loss of Pant could actually cost them some momentum as he played a vital role for them.

Johns – It’s tough to judge a side with the basis of one match – they have huge talents in top 5 and Stoinis form has been a huge boost especially one of the big holes before the tournament was that who will finish the innings for Delhi and now they have got an answer but still lower order is a bit concern and the injury of Pant is not helping with no Indian backup and so they need to sacrifice Hetmyer. Some bad signs but still they are on right track.

RCB have had a dream start, and now their skipper is also firing. What are the positives and negatives in your view of RCB?

Nikhil – Having got Morris in, RCB finally have a bowling attack that’s well rounded. The only worry for them could be if one of them has a bad day, they don’t have reliable 4th option and as decks get slower, the batting will have to adapt to them. Games in Sharjah should be good for their batting though. Especially Finch.

Johns – With Chris Morris coming back, RCB has more flexibility in the lineup and taking the pressure away from Saini and Chahal making them one of the best bowling unit this year – with Padikkal continuing the form and these big venues helping Kohli’s game more than anyone are really good positives moving forward. Only concern has been with Finch but with his skill and experience he will be coming back soon with runs. The contribution from Dube and bowling of Sundar plus keeping the pressure in powerplay helping Chahal and others to attack from ball one without any pressure.

SRH openers finally clicked in their game against Punjab, and even Rashid Khan has been performing exceptional, your thoughts on how they played this week? 

Nikhil – They were on the rise before getting sort of exposed vs Rajasthan. They have been defensive often in this season, with the lack of trust in the fifth bowler and yesterday, too, they were defensive and once Rashid got hit, they had no answer. So they will have to sort that out. Shankar, Abhishek need do used more smartly.

Johns – SRH was hit badly with the injury of Bhuvi but Rashid Khan has stood up with his magical performance with the ball but still they lack balance and power hitting at the back end of the innings – with tournament going into second half they need to find a place for Nabi. Some way around the innings they are lacking the second or third gear if Bairstow is dismissed cheaply – it is one of the areas they need to work during the cause of the league. They are having too many anchors in middle order so they need to give Virat or Samad more matches to get quick runs in the lower order.

MI are literally cruising and they even managed to beat one of the top teams – DC yesterday, is there a weak link you see in their squad?

Nikhil – MI always had most bases covered and with so many match winners, someone steps up often. They will want to have Hardik get a good hit though, and hope Quinton and Rohit get a bit consistent in terms of batting big. At least one of the two. They are firm favorites though now.

Johns – MI is the most settled unit in the league – they have everything in the arm and each day everyone becoming match winners. They are young, on their prime, performing like champions well lead by Rohit Sharma. They read the conditions well as they brought Pattinson as replacement and giving the results. The bench strength is as good as the playing 11 with Lynn, NCN, Mitch and lots of talented domestic players. Well oiled side – all set to defend the title again.

It must be tough to be a Punjab fan, isn’t it? They are losing games they should easily supposed to win and like Kevin Pietersen said, “they are learning to lose every game”. What do you think about their week?

Nikhil – KXIP have themselves to blame. They haven’t shown trust in their players. Way too many changes, way too many roles being reversed and KL Rahul has to bat freely. Do what it takes, that Orange  Cap is of no use, if they finish last. And their Arshdeep lad is good, hope he gets more games. They need their seniors to step up, all departments.

Johns – The conservative approach of KL Rahul is not helping the team, he should be playing his natural game especially having inform Pooran in the middle order but he has been showing no sign of aggression and that is affecting the side badly in batting and too many chopping & changing after each loss making things worse. Arshdeep and Bishnoi has been the two plus point for the team but Jordan’s form has been big concern especially he is known for his death bowling. Mujeeb under performing and injury of Cottrell has been giving lots of headaches for them. It is looking tough to turn around unless there is some Gayle magic left as he did before.

Like Punjab, even Rajasthan aren’t having a good season although they have managed to win two games that they were almost about to lose. What do you make of their performance this week?

Nikhil – Like KXIP, CSK, they have had too many changes. Stokes back at top is okay but Smith’s form is a worry. On slower decks, they have the bowling but need to get consistent with batting. Tewatia can’t win them everyday. They need seniors to take more ownership.

Johns – Rajasthan Royals are too much dependant on top heavy and inexperience in lower order so it’s really important for Jos Buttler and Steve Smith to make big runs – Sanju Samson continues to go in one way traffic by playing too many rash shots which is not helping them. They should be back Riyan Parag more as he has shown his skill set in 2019 and Jofra Archer need some support for them to go into next level. Form of Stokes in last 2 seasons hasn’t been great for RR – so he will be looking to turn things around but won’t be easy for him after coming from tough situations in personal life. Tewatia has been a huge positive with bat and ball but they are still yet to come and perform as a team.

Which game are you looking forward to the most this week?

Nikhil – The two RCB games in Sharjah, as Kohli returns to excellence, will be great to see the master at work. And the CSK games. I hope they find a way to win some games, CSK have too much pride to play for, hurts to see a Champion side struggle like this.

Johns – The match I am looking forward is KKR vs RCB – both sides are on winning ways, with important stage in the tournament – both will be trying for a win to go up in the points table and it’s crucial week for RCB as they will be playing 3 games so they will be looking to continue the momentum. And the match happening in Sharjah will make it more special with AB Devilliers, Russell, Morgan, Kohli in both sides.

Thank you for reading this article. The next review will be on 19th October. Follow me on Twitter – @bhavsarj2_0 for more updates.

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