For the sixth time in a row, Virat Kohli was asked to explain the freefall his team Royal Challenges Bangalore are experiencing this IPL. The defeat against Delhi Capitals on Sunday meant Royal Challengers have started the season with six successive defeats, equaling the record for the joint-worst start previously held by Delhi Daredevils in 2013.
As pointed out here, Royal Challengers were embarrassing for the second successive game in the field, allowing the opponent to capitalise on the let-offs. Still recovering from the knockout punch to their gut from Andre Russell in the defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders two evenings ago, they once again dropped chances, failed to convert run-out chances, misfielded and bowled no balls.
Instead of being harsh at the post-match presentation, Kohli just asked each of his team-mates for introspection. “When the mind is cluttered you wouldn’t be able to focus on the chances that come your way, so clarity of mind is very important in the game especially if you want to convert the half chances and pull the game back,” Kohli told the host broadcaster Star Sports.
Shreyas Iyer was dropped by Parthiv Patel on 4 on the last ball of the first over of the innings in which Tim Southee had already dismissed Shikhar Dhawan. Iyer proceeded to finish with a 50-ball 67.
“Look, in T20 cricket no one is going to keep giving you chances. We got two there – Shreyas got 65 (67). He was on 8 (4) when he was dropped first and then on 20-odd again. Look that takes the game to a different dimension altogether. Like at the end they panicked a little bit.”
Kohli admitted his team was once again not “good enough” when it mattered. He thought the under-par total of 149 was actually competitive only because the pitch was “dry underneath” and was hence behaving slow. “We thought 160-165 would be a very competitive total. Even 150, had we held on to our chances, would’ve been very difficult for them. Look, we need to grab our chances when they come our way. We can’t give excuses every day saying something or the other. We weren’t good enough on the day again, and that’s the whole story of RCB so far.”
Although he was the top-scorer for Royal Challengers with 41, it was an unusual innings from Kohli who didn’t get much strike for the 17 overs he batted, facing only 33 balls, and when he did, his punch lacked any impact. Kohli explained that he decided to drop anchor once AB de Villiers fell in the sixth over.
“When two senior batters are there in the team and one gets out, the other one has to take it deep. So that was the whole idea of that (my) innings. The pitch also didn’t allow us to play our shots that much in the first innings. I wasn’t too happy getting out to a ball like that. I thought if I had stayed [we] could have added maybe 25-30 more to the total. In hindsight you can look at all the things possible, but even with the total in hand, we thought 160 (150) would have been very competitive.”
So what should Royal Challengers do to avoid further embarrassment? Kohli did not have much energy or words.
“There’s nothing more you can say to the team,” he said. “We have asked the guys to take responsibility, come out here and perform to the best of their abilities. It hasn’t happened so far. That’s the reality of the situation. We do accept it. The more we get frustrated, the more it is going to get tougher and tougher. So the key is to just enjoy ourselves as much as we can, play expressive cricket in the remaining games. Personally as well, not trying to control the situation too much. There is to a certain extent that you can control, which is your own personal skill and try to give your own effort as much as possible and we expect that out of the team, too. Yeah, the team should just take it easy, relax. Whatever it is in front of us, it is in front of us. We can’t really change the situation.”