Rohit’s form, Virat’s strike-rate the talking points as MI host RCB
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When they lock horns at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday, they will be desperate to get a win under their belt and put some breathing space between them and the chasing pack while staying in touch with those above them, especially with all the teams still in contention for a playoff spot.
Under the lens will be Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli – two of the biggest stars of Indian cricket at the moment – who have served their franchises well over the years but questions have been raised about the way they have gone about their business this time around. Rohit has been off the boil in the last few matches and while scoring runs hasn’t been an issue for Kohli, the pace at which he has scored them has been criticised.
In 10 matches this season, Rohit has scored just 184 runs which have come at a strike rate of 126.90 with the help of just one half-century. In the last four matches his scores read 2, 3, 0, 0. Rohit’s fifty that came in a winning cause against Delhi Capitals at the start of the tournament was just his second in three seasons. While he scored one in 2021, he didn’t hit a single half century last season.
Rohit has been a firm believer in tonking it from the word go. He did that successfully in the first few matches, but lately, the approach hasn’t clicked. The reason behind Rohit’s desperation may stem from the fact that at the other end Ishan Kishan too hasn’t been quick to get off the blocks.
Cameroon Green, who opened in place of Rohit in MI’s last match against Chennai Super Kings, backed the skipper to come good. “Absolutely not. A legend that Rohit is, especially with Mumbai and everything that he has done in his career, we back him. He could come back into form any time. So far he has batted beautifully in a few games, showing really good tempo at the top, so we are absolutely backing him,” said the Australian on the eve of the match which saw both the teams sweating it out in the nets for close to three hours.
On the other side of the spectrum is Kohli, who is enjoying his best IPL season in a long time in terms of runs under his belt, having scored 419 runs in 10 matches with the help of six half-centuries. But the strike-rate of 135. 16 has been questioned.
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Among the nine openers who have scored 300-plus runs this season, Virat Kohli sits in second last position when it comes to strike rate. The list is topped by Rajasthan Royals’ young gun Yashasvi Jaiswal, who has brought up his runs at a strike rate of 160.60.
Second on the list is RCB skipper Faf du Plessis, who is the top-scorer in the IPL this season with 511 runs and has a strike rate of 157. 71. But Du Plessis also changed his approach going into the season and took a conscious decision to bat at a higher tempo.
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“In the past, I always felt like I had a decent attacking game but I felt like there was another gear in terms of taking your strike rate from 130 to 150 at least and then sometimes 160-170 so, I have worked on that a lot. But it is also important for me to try and play as much cricket as possible just to try and stay on top of my game,” Du Plessis revealed in the RCB Bold Diaries.
But like Rohit, Kohli also finds himself in a Catch 22 situation – whether to keep hitting or farm the strike after an initial burst, as barring him, Du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell, the rest of the RCB batters have struggled. Mahipal Lomror‘s fifty in the last match was a first by an RCB batter, other than the top three.
Watch IPL 2023: MI take on RCB at Wankhede