DUAL INTERVIEW with Nikhil and Johns – 3

Looking at the past IPL performances, one bad season shouldn’t be a major concern for CSK, your thoughts?

Nikhil – It should not be a major concern but it should definitely make them take notice of the things that were already an issue and it was a rude reality check if you can call it that. They did play a lot of close games and would have loved to finish few but this is fine for a one-off for a side that has been so consistent.

Johns – CSK missed few tricks in the last auction with not rectifying the middle order concerns and Raina pulling out made a massive difference but they know how to come back as we have seen in 2018 after coming back with 2-year ban they won the trophy so I believe this setback will make them stronger.

MI, DC, and RCB, these teams have performed well so far and have almost secured their place in the play-offs, your thoughts?

Nikhil – No surprises with it really, these three have been the teams which have had the most bases covered and hence are in the top three. The results this week though show how in cricket, no matter how good you are, you have to turn up on the day to come good and win.

Johns – Three best sides of the season, well maintained, did well in the auction or in replacements, backups, and three sides who were in the playoff list of most fans and they delivered in UAE.

How good was that day where we witnessed three superovers in a day? Also, is MI vs KXIP  the greatest IPL game in history?

Nikhil – By some distance, I think. It was not on anyone’s mind how that game panned out. We saw some really good cricket that day but to me, the highlight was Shami out-bowling Bumrah in a Super Over. I will be honest, I didn’t see that coming. But it was refreshing and so good to see an Indian bowler not named Bumrah, nail those yorkers.

Johns – It shows the never die attitude of teams to win all the matches, that makes IPL so special and quality increasing year by year. Tough to tell whether it is the best match of IPL history but that was classic, never saw two super overs in a single match and the high standard of cricket with both teams showing their class.

It’s that time of the tournament where teams who are at 4th, 5th, 6th and even 7th position start calculating for their place in the playoffs, which team according to you will make it to the 4th position?

Nikhil – I think MI, DC and RCB are strong enough to make it. The fourth spot will be between KKR and KXIP. Lockie and Narine’s return means KKR are strong but KXIP to me is picking up at the right time for the tournament.

Johns – On momentum, Punjab look favourites but tough to tell anything in this format, KKR vs KXIP will be an eliminator before the eliminator in playoffs.

SRH and RR, did you expect better performances from these two teams? What went wrong for them in your view?

Nikhil – 100%. It is the lack of clarity and backup if you ask me. RR have been too confusing as a side with their batting roles. Smith and Stokes didn’t come off till the latter came good with his century. You need to have a good bowling attack and at RR, Jofra Archer has no support whatsoever. For SRH, it was always going to be about the middle order and Manish Pandey has once again blown hot and cold. You really can’t have an Indian core not performing and that has been the reason for SRH struggling with both bat and ball this season.

Johns – Both SRH and RR have made mistakes in the auction and making right eleven, they need to put some homework right in the table because both teams have a good core, just need to make a good side through the core like Mumbai or Banglore or Delhi.

KXIP were losing games they should have won at the start of this tournament, and now they are winning games from difficult situations, how well have they played?

Nikhil – They were always playing well and lost two games that they never should have. So that would already have them in the top four. Their bowling has not been top notch but they have found answers with the two spinners Ashwin and Bishnoi bowling really well. Hope they can continue this and win their maiden IPL title.

Johns – KXIP was unlucky and played some silly cricket in the first half but with the inclusion of Gayle, that has reduced the pressure helping Mayank & Rahul on top and then their bowlers coming to the party especially the way inexperienced Indian bowlers doing in these pressure situation will make the think tank happier.

Which match are you looking forward to this week?

Nikhil – Two games clearly. The KKR-KXIP contest as it is a direct shot out and if KXIP can continue their momentum and beat RR on Friday, they will be right up in the competition and teams will be scared of a team gaining momentum at the right time.

Johns – Everyone will be looking forward to Punjab vs Kolkata – as I said earlier, it is the Eliminator before the Eliminator of playoffs. This match can give you an idea of who likely to join with DC, MI, RCB.

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