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Afterthoughts from the weekend ft Sandeep ‘GOAT’ Sharma, Kohli’s blame game and the DC misery

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Sandeep Sharma clinched his 100th IPL wicket versus KXIP

@ IPL T20

Afterthoughts from the weekend ft Sandeep ‘GOAT’ Sharma, Kohli’s blame game and the DC misery

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Anirudh Suresh

10/26/2020

A youngster carrying CSK, a choke for the ages, and the bottom-placed side chasing 196 with 10 balls to spare: just when you think the IPL cannot get better, it does. The penultimate weekend of IPL 2020 sprung many a surprise, and, as always, we’ve tried our best to cram in ‘the’ talking points.

Delhi Capitals vs Kolkata Knight Riders

Could Delhi, well, miss out on the playoffs?

Not long ago there was trepidation amongst Delhi fans of the club pulling off a 2009 - finishing top and getting smashed in the knockouts - but could the Capitals go one step further and pull off a 2010 where, after winning 6 off their first 9, they failed to make the playoffs? Two of their final three games are against their fellow top-three peers with the other being against the wounded lion that is SRH. Don’t rule it out. Never with DC. Their bowling seems to be getting worse by the day, their batting is disjointed and every game is tending to expose a fresh hole. Ask Ashwin, he knows a thing or two about second-half-of-the-season heartbreaks.

Dre Russ will continue to be ‘injured’

“KKR are nothing without Andre Russell” is an opinion that floated around quite a lot last season and at the start of this season but well, dare I say he has no place in the side now - at least until one of Cummins or Ferguson have a bad day. In all honesty, the side KKR fielded on Saturday was perhaps their most balanced XI in some three years. With Cummins and Narine finding form, with Lockie continuing to be the gun he is, and with Morgan being the skipper, who do they drop, really? In retrospect the management perhaps, now, regrets appointing Morgan the skipper. Hah. Expect Russell to stay ‘injured’ for the next couple of games, at least. 

Kings XI Punjab vs Sunrisers Hyderabad

Murugan Ashwin cannot be praised enough

Fun fact

KXIP with Murugan Ashwin in the XI this season - W5 L1

KXIP without Murugan Ashwin in the XI this season - W0 L5

Murugan Ashwin’s first over versus Bairstow was what instilled hope and lit the fire in KXIP’s belly and let no one tell you otherwise. People talk about Gayle, Jordan, and Arshdeep but the one man who’s been at the heart of this Punjab turnaround has been M Ashwin. Regardless of the ground, pitch, situation, and the batsman, Ashwin has delivered everytime Rahul has asked him to, and watching him bowl has been delightful. His control is immaculate, but what stands out about M-Ash is that he can, like Chahal or Chahar, flight the ball, entice the batsman and turn his stock leggie a mile or, like Bishnoi, maraud batters with sharp googlies. Forget being underrated, his heroics have gone unnoticed. 

We all have disrespected Sandeep Sharma - so goddamn much

Fun fact

Sandeep Sharma in IPL - 87 inns, 101 wkts, ER 7.78

Jasprit Bumrah in IPL - 88 inns, 99 wkts, ER 7.55

“Ugh, here comes Sandeep with his predictable inswingers,” we all groan the moment he walks into bowl. But hey, as long as he’s getting the job done, it doesn’t really matter if he bowls 24 inswingers, you know. On Saturday, Sandeep became the sixth Indian pacer, and the 15th bowler overall, to claim 100 IPL wickets. Of the 15, Lasith Malinga is the only pacer to have a better wkts per game ratio (1.39) than that of Sandeep (1.16) at a lower economy rate than that of the right-arm seamer. In fact, Chahal, Nehra, and Malinga are the only three bowlers in IPL history (min 100 wickets) to have a better wkts-per-game ratio than Sandeep. Time to put some respect on the man’s name. 

Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Chennai Super Kings

Virat Kohli should perhaps look in the mirror

Kohli’s Mr.Equanimous facade was shattered post the Chennai loss where he conveniently threw the bowlers under the bus - with a straight face - despite putting just a 145 on the board. But before he lays into his teammates - minus Finch, of course - perhaps the RCB skipper needs to do some self-introspection. What the numbers will tell you is that Kohli has 415 runs to his name at an average of almost 60, but what it won’t is that, barring the first CSK game, his knocks have ‘looked’ good only because of AB rescue jobs. Versus CSK on Sunday, not for the first time this season, RCB’s snail-like approach in the middle overs - powered by Kohli’s run-accumulation - cost them the game. So Virat, next time around, you would perhaps just be better off upping your strike rate a wee bit before pinning the blame on the bowlers. 

I extend my empathy for you, Sai Kishore

Let us not get into the ‘spark’ jokes anymore, they have been run to the ground and are not even funny anymore. That said, come on CSK, you’ve got to be joking, surely. 12 games into the season, are you telling us that you couldn’t find a single game for the best performer in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy? Get out of here. The move would have been digestible had it been an Ishan Porel-like situation but come on, your two premier spinners have stank so much; they’ve been amongst the worst spinners in the entire league. Reserve your mental gymnastics for another day, there is no justification for giving Monu Kumar, a ‘pacer’ with no redeeming qualities, a game over Sai Kishore. Pack your bags and run as far away as you can from this franchise, RSK.

Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals

Suryakumar Yadav is by a light-year-distance the best No.3 in IPL 2020

Ignore the Kohli fanbois. There has only been one elite No.3 in IPL 2020 and his name is Suryakumar Yadav. I thought about this long and hard. Let me tell you, of all No.3s in the competition, he is the only one who I’d love to see walk-in both at 0/1 and 100/1. Could you imagine Kohli, Iyer or Pandey walking in at 120/1 in the 12th over? Nightmare. No, not for the opposition. For someone who has almost always walked in at the loss of an early wicket, SKY’s effortless acceleration this season has been outrageous. Today was just exhibit 8 or 9 of him miraculously turning around a position of concern into strength within a matter of balls. What. A. Player. 

Why do left-arm spinners exist?

It seems like in IPL 2020, having a left-arm spinner in your team is as good as playing with a bowler short. Axar, Jadeja, Krunal, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem - for some reason, the moment captains (or the management - aren’t they controlling the players?) sense one batsman shifting gears, their first reaction is to not throw the ball to their left-arm spinner, even if he’s in the team as the fourth bowler. This is not something that has happened just once or twice, by the way; this has been a recurring pattern throughout this IPL. My question is, if you’re not going to put an iota of trust in them, or even give them an opportunity to get the better of the batsman, why waste a slot on them? Because they are handy with the bat? Ah, I see. 

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