Former West Indies skipper Brian Lara wants Virat Kohli to continue as Royal Challengers Bangalore’s skipper in the next edition of the Indian Premier League after they lost to Kolkata Knight Riders in the Eliminator on Monday. The 32-year-old's tenure as captain of the Bangalore-based franchise ended without an IPL triumph but Lara said he is not just going to point fingers at him.
“If I was the franchise owner, I would ask Kohli to continue as the skipper. Virat Kohli the player and Virat Kohli the captain are two different people. Such a high profile player and he is still ‘young’ and is willing to play under somebody else. He wants to remain with RCB and I would have asked him to not give up the captaincy,” Lara told Cricket.com.
“I would give him the players he wants and focus on the next few years. It’s tough and I am never going to point my finger at Kohli who gives everything on the field. They could have played better cricket and finished at either No. 1 or two. Things might have been different.”
Kolkata managed to restrict Bangalore to just 138/7 after Devdutt Padikkal and Kohli put on 49 runs in five overs. Sunil Narine claimed four wickets including the likes of Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers and Lara feels they could have easily played out Narine and should have targeted the seamers.
“It was a tough loss. You won the toss and did what you wanted to. They were 49 for no loss in five overs. Padikkal got out in the fifth over and then Kohli slowed down a bit, which I understand. If you go at almost 10 runs per over in the powerplay and then go around six in the middle overs, there’s nothing wrong about that but don’t lose so many wickets.
“Captain Kohli, Maxwell and ABD got out to Narine. Even if you would have played him out, these three could have gone after the other bowlers. They didn’t do that and the tailenders were asked to do all the scoring at the end. The thinking was wrong. You don’t need 180 at Sharjah. I was disappointed with the final total they got. Too many cross-batted shots, they could have gone straight down the ground.”
Lara also didn’t understand why Bangalore stuck with Dan Christian for so long. The 38-year-old allrounder from Australia scored only 14 runs in nine games and picked up just four wickets at an economy of 9.3. He also struggled to make an impact in the Eliminator. Christian was smoked for three sixes in one over by Narine and that helped Kolkata turn the game in their favour.
“These guys play in the Big Bash and you guys have your scouts around the world. You pick them up because they might have a good match or two. Christian is a medium seamer who can hit a couple of big shots, but at this level you need good talent and there are many better options than Christian. We have to have some empathy. The next IPL is hardly six months away and RCB will have to come back stronger. They need a solid auction.”
Kolkata will now take on Delhi Capitals in the second Qualifier and the winner will then play Chennai Super Kings in the finale. Lara feels Kolkata might have an advantage over Delhi in the all-important game.
“It will be tough for KKR because Delhi have some very good fast bowlers. Other than Narine, it’s the fast bowlers who have dominated at Sharjah. However, Avesh Khan had a couple of bad games, Rabada hasn’t been at his best and Pant looked disappointed in the last game.
“Kolkata are playing similar cricket and they are playing aggressively. I have been critical but at least they have a plan. If I go back to RCB, they didn’t have a proper plan. That’s not the case with KKR. You just saw what Narine did and if Russell comes back, they will get even more stronger. Delhi too have a lot of young players and they can blow them out of the water.”