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Rub of the green goes Kohli's way

Rub of the green goes Kohli's way

Royal Challenger Bangalore's Virat Kohli made uncharacteristic mistakes both as captain and batsman against Delhi Daredevils in their opening game in the Indian Premier League 2014 in Sharjah on Thursday but was fortunate that he and his team did not pay the price against an opposition that made mistakes with selection and on the field.

Having asked DD to take first strike on winning the toss, Kohli appeared to be on song when the opposition was reduced to 35 for four in 7.1 overs. Some of his decisions in the end allowed the Daredevils, who had erred in not picking Quinton de Kock as opener, to finish with a competitive total on the board.

And when his turn came to bat, he was his serene self for a while but flicked Wayne Parnell to short-fine leg where Jimmy Neesham - another of DD's mysterious choices ahead of Australian's paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile - dropped a sitter. Later in the over, Kohli was dropped by the boundary rider Mayank Aggarwal on the off-side.

Poor Neesham, ostensibly pressed into service because of his allround skills, had a forgettable night, conceding 22 runs in his two overs and letting Yuvraj Singh breathe easy after Mohammed Shami had made early life difficult for the left-handed batsman. It seemed routine for Yuvraj and Kohli to share an 80-plus unbroken stand and secure an easy win.

However, Kohli will do well to remember that captains must not go into a game with fixed bowling plans. RCB Bowling coach Allan Donald, who has worked with Dinda during their stint at the now-extinct Pune Warriors India and believes he is one of the best death bowlers, appears to have impressed upon his skipper to reserve Dinda for two of the final three overs.

Of course, Dinda is a fine bowler and has both a good yorker and a slower delivery that can fox batsmen. But despite Dinda's economy rate being 10 an over, Kohli pressed him into service in the 18th over. And when his man conceded 14 runs, Kohli could have decided against calling him back to the bowling crease, reorganising the last two overs accordingly.

Mitchell Starc, Albie Morkel and Varun Aaron had an over left each. Most would have expected Kohli to save Starc for the final over and bowl either Morkel or Aaron to bowl the penultimate over. With six wickets left, going into the final two overs, it was obvious that DD's pair of JP Duminy and Ross Taylor would throw the bat at everything.

Instead, the RCB skipper got Starc to bowl the 19th and, quite inexplicably, picked Dinda to take charge of the final over. Taylor despatched a full toss outside off-stump to the sweeper cover fence. Three good deliveries followed but when the left-handed Duminy was on strike, Dinda bowled a full length ball that went for six and a full toss that was swung for four.

For Kohli, it was just as well Delhi had lost four wickets in a heap at the start of their innings and had an ordinary day on the field after making selection mistakes of their own. For a team that is hoping to move from being among eternal bridesmaids to title winners, RCB will have to think on their feet rather than go in with just one plan in mind.

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