Royal Challengers Bangalore started IPL 2021 with a win. They defeated the defending champions, Mumbai Indians, in the opening game of the season. In their next game – the sixth of the season – RCB set themselves to face Sunrisers Hyderabad who could not find enough firepower with the bat in their first game against the Knight Riders.
Fancying Sunrisers to win the tournament this year, Brian Lara feels that SRH do not need any tinkering in the batting department. “I think they got to maintain the same team. There's nothing wrong with the team. It's just their opening batsman did not perform...Bairstow’s performance was quite good at number four…But I would go into the exact same team. I just think it's a situation where it’s the first game of the tournament, they were a bit rusty and a lot of main players with the bat and ball did not perform and I think that they should back them going forward,” Lara said in a face-off against Criclytics, Cricket.com’s AI-driven prediction platform.
Manish Pandey attracted serious criticism for his conservative knock during SRH’s opening game. Being 43* off 31, Pandey added 12 off the next 12 balls when his side needed 12.5 runs per over. Lara too felt his innings lacked aggression. “Manish Pandey played well [but can] have to be a little bit more aggressive throughout his innings as he builds momentum.”
Lara however, was not overly positive about RCB and found them the least impressive winners in the first round of games. "When you're looking at all four games so far, the least impressive winner were the RCB. All the other teams were very dominant against their opposition, there were close matches and you feel that a lot of people are getting into top gear. But they just about scraped through against the Mumbai Indians.”, Lara said.
Last season, RCB were the worst performing side with the bat in the middle-overs (7-15), scoring at just 6.93 runs per over. They added Glenn Maxwell to their side this year to rest their middle-overs woes. Despite Maxwell’s 28-ball 39, RCB scored 60 runs in the nine middle-overs against MI. This is the lowest so far this season after five games.
Speaking about Maxwell, Lara added, “You can't say after one game that they've found the recipe. They have improved the errors and they've picked a guy like Glenn Maxwell who we know over the last two IPLs has been a huge disappointment. Now he started the IPL really well with the bat and he's amazing in the field. But again, I find there's a little bit of reliance on the two big boys which are Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers and the other batsmen have to wrestle that away from them and want to be the match-winner in the team.”
Since IPL 2020, David Warner has got out to spin seven times – the most for a batsman. Playing at Chepauk, he averages a mere 23.6. Despite these numbers, Lara still feels Warner is going to be the man to watch out for in their encounter against the RCB. “I am a little bit worried against Washington Sundar in the first couple of overs but I just sense that if there's one player that's going to bat in the back of his mind knowing all these numbers and come out at the other end of it in a positive way, it is Warner,” said Lara.
However, Lara added that it will be important for SRH to have Warner find his form early in the tournament. Though he has thrown his weight behind SRH, Lara doesn’t feel they can do well without Warner’s contributions.
Prophesizing that this IPL could be a very special one, Lara has called all the sides losing their first games to win in the second round. He has started on a positive note with MI beating KKR. We will come to know about others in three day’s time.