Quite a few eyebrows were raised as Virat Kohli gave Mohammad Siraj the new ball in the match between Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Wednesday. While several fans and pundits hailed Kohli’s move to hand Siraj the new ball instead of Washington Sundar, former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir questioned the RCB skipper’s decision to give Navdeep Saini the third over.
While it was Chris Morris who had begun the attack with the ball, Siraj partnered him and came out to bowl in the second over. As Siraj bagged two wickets, Kohli decided to give the third over of the match to Saini. Although the move paid off as Saini also bagged a wicket in what was his first over, Gambhir didn’t quite understand the intent behind the move.
“The brilliant captaincy that Virat Kohli had shown by giving the new ball to Mohammed Siraj, the positive captaincy and a fine move that paid off but this move surprises you,” Gambhir was heard as saying during live commentary.
“I don’t get the reason behind giving the ball to a new bowler to bowl the third over after Chris Morris’ first over,” he explained.
Kohli continued to shuffle his bowling unit throughout the match and reaped rewards at almost every move. Be it Washington Sundar, Yuzvnendra Chahal, Saini or Morris, the bowlers kept an extremely tidy line against KKR batters. Chahal and Sundar also found themselves among wickets while Morris and Isuru Udana were pretty economical in their spells.
At the post-match presentation, Kohli admitted that the decision to give Siraj the new ball was a late one.
“It was a late call to be honest (to give Siraj the new ball). Was thinking of giving Washy. When we got here, we saw the surface, it looked drier. At the toss I said that it was a good toss to lose. We would have batted first but the pitch just seemed to look much better under lights. We had the option of the plan to start with Washi and bring Morris in the second over, then we thought let’s give Siraj the new ball with Morris. Let him set the tone and then let Siraj try and swing the ball,” he said.