May 25, 2020
In this series,Hot Seat, we present our writers with a tricky cricketing scenario and ask them to captain their way out of it.
You’re captaining Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL final against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede. You have to chase 190 against a bowling attack of Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Jason Behrendorff, the Pandya brothers, and Rahul Chahar. Your top seven is Aaron Finch, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube and Chris Morris. Now, the same portal that opened last week has opened in reverse this time, allowing you to bring in any two players from the 1990s to replace two batsmen in your RCB top seven. An overseas player can only be brought in at the expense of another overseas player. Who comes in and who goes out?
Hemant Brar: Sachin Tendulkar and Lance Klusener
With Kohli, de Villiers and Ali in the middle order, all you need is a strong opening duo to set up the chase and a finisher to wrap it up. Two names pop up among the ’90s openers: Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar. The thought of Jayasuriya opening alongside a diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman is alluring, but the Tendulkar-Finch combination offers more. Tendulkar, who replaces Patel, had decent numbers against Malinga and also knows what to look for when facing Bumrah. But despite a star-studded batting line-up, expect RCB to find themselves requiring ten from the final over. Instead of Morris, it’s Lance Klusener in the middle though and that’s exactly the kind of scenario he would back himself in.
Deivarayan Muthu: Ajay Jadeja and Lance Klusener
There’s plenty of cream in the middle order, but the lower-middle order seems squishy, so I’d draft in Klusener in place of Morris. Back in the day, Klusener was a bonafide finisher and was even more destructive when there were 20-odd balls left in the innings. I would also have Ajay Jadeja instead of Dube. Jadeja used to steal singles – and doubles – from right under the noses of the infielders. His busy, street-smart batting style could be the ideal foil for Klusener’s big hitting. Plus, Jadeja can also dispatch yorkers to the fence, as he showed against Waqar Younis in the 1996 World Cup.
Gaurav Sundararaman: Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana
I will replace Morris and Finch with Sri Lanka’s 90s opening duo and make them open the batting. Chasing a score of 190, RCB require an explosive start. Even if one of Jayasuriya or Kaluwitharana go on to bat till the 6th over, the score is likely to be pretty high. The left-right pair will also help disrupt the line and length of Behrendorff and Malinga. If an early wicket falls, I will send in Parthiv Patel to score in the powerplay. Otherwise Kohli and de Villiers will do the needful and get RCB across the line.
Matt Roller: No changes
The absence of any nostalgia – I wasn’t even alive for most of the ’90s – should stop my judgement being clouded. In a 190 chase, I’m almost entirely focused on power-hitting, and that’s exactly what this RCB line-up is full of – as usual, their attack is suspect, but this top seven is well-suited to scoring quickly on a fast, true Wankhede pitch. Finch and Patel negate Behrendorff’s left-arm threat, Kohli, de Villiers and Ali keep things moving against spin, and Dube and Morris target an ageing Malinga to get them over the line. Modern-style hitters just weren’t a thing in the 1990s: across all batsmen in the decade who played 20 ODIs, not a single one struck at above 100 while averaging 25. I considered Klusener, but Morris has struck at more than 160 over the last four IPLs, so I’ll keep things as they are.
Saurabh Somani: Sachin Tendulkar and Lance Klusener
I would bring in Tendulkar to replace Patel, whose job as a keeper is already done. Tendulkar was so far ahead of his time it’s a wonder this portal didn’t open then and catapult him into the future. I’m going to assume we get an automatically enhanced Tendulkar fitted to the 2020s – as far ahead of the curve now as he was in the 1990s, so he’ll be striking at roughly 150 while averaging 40-plus in T20s. Plus it’s at the Wankhede. See off Bumrah, be a mite wary against Behrendorff, and I fancy Tendulkar to take apart the rest of the bowling attack.
Chris Morris is a fine ball-striker to have at No.7, but Klusener would probably have ruled T20 cricket if he had been born a decade later. His hitting was as clean as they come. He would go deep in his crease to counter Bumrah and Malinga’s yorkers. Being a left-hander, Behrendorff’s angle wouldn’t faze him. Klusener in beast mode – think 1999 World Cup, when his strike rate was 122.17, nearly double that of the tournament average of 64.85 – would be capable of making the chase look easy.
Sharda Ugra: Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya
Stand aside, Finch and Patel, Tendulkar and Jayasuriya will be enough to take care of the first six overs, and it could be game over by the 12th. The opposition may have impressive T20 bowling pedigree, but in Sachin-Sanath, they will face once in a lifetime openers who reset the very standards of the game. Tendulkar was a bowler-muncher regardless of reputation, without the benefits of micro-mini boundaries, extra fielders in the ring, even more beastly bats or DRS. Jayasuriya’s 1990s strike-rate – 90.84 – was higher than any top-order batsman of that decade, and Tendulkar’s 86.8 wasn’t too shabby either. Plus, this is Wankhede, his nursery playpen, where he motored along at 91.34.
A left-field option could be Shahid Afridi for Moeen Ali, but #Tenduriya (don’t blame me, the new millennium can’t live without this stuff) will ensure it won’t get that far down. Bengaluru, your wait to celebrate is over.
If you have answers to the scenario above or suggestions for scenarios, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more in the series, click here.
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