Some things in life never change. L.L.L.L.L.L.L.L.L. And however close Mumbai manage to drag it, history continues to defy them. Also, just as fittingly, it’s Harshal Patel with this winning flick, making sure he does no wrong on what’s already been a massively satisfying day with his fifer. This match really had no business getting this close. With Kohli and Maxwell having laid the platform, and then with AB smoking them around, this really looked over at the second time-out. But again, Bumrah’s Bumrah for a reason. Picking up wickets is one thing, but keeping AB off strike is another. And he did both. But still, RCB’s choking wasn’t all that good! For all that they fought with at the death with the ball, it was their batting at the death that was actually the clincher. When you end up with figures of 39 runs | 6 wickets in overs 15-20, you rarely win. And when it’s Mumbai and their history of IPL openers, you just cannot win.
STAT: First time RCB have won a season opener they have been involved in. They lost in 2008, 2017 & 2019.
Rohit Sharma | Losing captain: That’s the most important thing I guess (to win tournaments). Not the first game. I thought it was a great effort.. great fight till the end. I thought we were 20 runs short with the kind of start we got. We made some mistakes in the first game, bound to happen. He’s (Jansen) a talent we have identified to bowl in any situation. We wanted to get wickets when AB and Christian were batting, which is why we went with Bumrah and Boult, unfortunately it didn’t work. Definitely not an easy pitch to bat on. We need to identify the situations and get variations. AB was brilliant and got them home. In hindsight you can say it takes time to get intensity. But there are fresh faces. Lot of players were playing international cricket and we have not had time to get to know each other very well. It can be difficult for teams who have great home record but that’s the challenge of the sport (about playing in neutral venues). But we are fortunate enough to be able to be on the park and put some smiles on the faces of people in India. The country is going through tough times. Give them something to look forward to.
Virat Kohli | Winning captain: We won the first match last year as well that we played. It was important to play against the strongest side in the competition and test our side. Everyone was involved in this game, and when you win by two wickets, it means that everyone has gone in and played. A lot of options for me as well that helped bringing the game back. The pitch was looking decent in the first half, but to be honest, with the old ball the length ball was difficult to get away. That is why those partnerships between Maxi and me and then between AB and Maxi was really important. It’s not a pitch where you can just hit through the line. You have to be smart with picking the gaps and running hard. Playing in Chennai you have to be respectful of that. The shot that Pollard got out to, in Wankhde it would’ve sailed into the crowds. We came back well and used the conditions well. They came back well too after losing Rohit early and those last six overs for us were probably the best six we’ve ever had. We brought Harshal in a trade from Delhi. He is relishing the responsibility and is clear with his plans. He was the difference today. He is going to be our death bowler. As a captain you want players with clarity, and he has that. Jamieson started off well, Yuzi was good, Siraj was good too. In T20 cricket, clarity at the top of your mark is all you as for as a captain. Harshal was very clear with that and it was his day today. We wanted Maxi to bat at four. Rajat is a very solid players. He is an exciting player, plays spin well too. The thinking was that we wanted to give Maxi some balls at the start and not get him slogging rightaway. You saw the result today of him playing 10-15 balls. His innings was the game-changer. Had he stayed in we would’ve finished a couple of overs earlier. The opposition then gets nervous about AB. We have depth in the batting which we want to utilize. AB is probably the only one in the team who is so versatile. And he does it on slow wickets what not many can do. In a tricky chase you need experience at the back, and the opposition knows that if he doesn’t get out, the bowlers get in a different headspace.
Harshal Patel is the man of the match.