After an encouraging win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in their first game of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2020), the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) fell to a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP).
The defeat was embarrassing for the franchise not only because of the margin (97 runs), but also because KXIP had a number of former RCB players on their roster - Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Karun Nair and Chris Jordan.
What the defeat also did was bring to light a number of concerns that have perennially hovered over Indian skipper Virat Kohli's captaincy. The 31-year-old has been at the helm of RCB since 2013 with only one appearance in the IPL 2016 final to show for, and the squad at his disposal has been far more stacked than the results suggest.
And in IPL 2020, despite the fact that RCB have lost only one game and still stand a reasonable chance of making the playoffs, it's time for Virat Kohli to step aside. Here's why RCB need to hand over the captaincy to Aaron Finch immediately.
Virat Kohli's usage of bowlers is not befitting an international captain
In yesterday's game against KXIP, Kohli rotated his bowlers by throwing caution to the wind.
Washington Sundar, who is renowned for his prowess in the powerplay, was brought in in the 8th over and was immediately taken out of the attack despite conceding only 8 runs. Despite the fact that the off-spinner was operating in tandem with Yuzvendra Chahal, Kohli brought Umesh Yadav in place of him, and the speedster promptly bowled a 20-run over that handed (no, threw) the momentum back to KXIP.
Sundar was brought back into the attack for the 12th over, and conceded only 5 runs. The result? He was taken out of the attack again. Although Shivam Dube did pick up the wicket of Nicholas Pooran, this meant that the Tamil Nadu man bowled only 2 overs in the innings, one more than he bowled against SRH.
As if this wasn't enough, after Dube bowled 2 overs for 10 runs while picking up 2 wickets, he was also taken out of the attack and brought back to bowl the final over. KL Rahul picked apart the all-rounder for 23 runs, with 80 runs coming off the last 5 overs of the KXIP innings.
While this can be attributed to Dale Steyn's nightmare spell, it is undeniable that Kohli bowled his best death bowler - Navdeep Saini - far too early in the innings. The express quick had bowled three overs by the 13th over, and to make this worse, the other strike bowler at Kohli's disposal - Yuzvendra Chahal - had bowled three by the 11th over.
This isn't a one-off either - the RCB skipper has consistently bungled the way he rotates bowlers, both with the franchise and with the Indian team. This leads us to ask the question - are RCB's death-bowling woes down to Kohli's captaincy alone?
RCB's team selection still leaves a lot to be desired
RCB have been without the services of Chris Morris, who is suffering from a side strain, and this has affected their team balance to a certain extent. However, quite why Josh Philippe is in the playing XI is something that is inexplicable to say the least.
The Australian wicket-keeper is certainly enormously talented and has a very bright career ahead of him, but opting to play him ahead of Moeen Ali is a bizarre decision. This selection may have been influenced by AB de Villiers' inability to keep wickets and Parthiv Patel's opening role being taken up by Devdutt Padikkal, but RCB need to find a way around this dilemma at the earliest.
Philippe had a nightmare debut both with the bat and behind the stumps, but RCB sent a player who is clearly lacking confidence in at No. 3 against KXIP, and unsurprisingly, he bagged a 3-ball duck. Had he been playing cricket for the Kangaroos against England in the limited-overs leg that took place ahead of IPL 2020, the decision would've still been understandable.
Team selection and the composition of the batting order are other issues that have plagued RCB consistently. Shimron Hetmyer and Shane Watson were played lower down the order during their time at the team, and their effectiveness was almost completely nullified by their batting position.
Kohli's captaincy simply isn't decisive enough. He doesn't have the foresight or ability to spot where players are best suited to bat, and whether they should be part of the playing XI in the first place. This indecisiveness has cost India more than one ICC trophy, with the No. 4 position in the national team a prime example of Kohli's failures as a captain.
Why is Aaron Finch the right man to captain RCB?
Now that we've established why Kohli should give up captaincy, there arises the question of who is the right man for the job.
AB de Villiers has enough experience and skill to captain RCB, but it is highly unlikely that he will want to. Moeen Ali was appointed England vice-captain against Ireland in the absence of Jos Buttler, but he too doesn't inspire much confidence.
Parthiv Patel led Gujarat to an improbable Ranji Trophy victory, but his place in the side isn't secure enough for him to be considered for the captaincy.
The perfect choice for RCB is, therefore, Aaron Finch. The Australian white-ball captain has a horrible IPL record, and hasn't looked to be in any kind of form in the two games of this season either.
However, Finch is an astute captain who has proven that leadership elevates his game on big occasions. The opener's form was a major concern for Australia heading into the 2019 World Cup, but he tallied 507 runs in 10 games to lead the country to the semi-final, in which they lost to eventual winners England.
Click here to see point table dream11 IPL 2020
Finch taking over captaincy would also free Kohli of many responsibilities, although it must be said that the absence of a leadership role might even hamper the current RCB skipper's batting. Kohli's game has elevated itself to an insurmountable level since he was handed the reins of the Indian team, and he has always led from the front as far as batting is concerned.
However, the flip side is that he will be able to bat with freedom. Moreover, Kohli's fielding, which has undeniably taken a hit since he became captain (probably due to the fact that he is always thinking about field placements and bowling changes) will get better.
The impact of removing the Indian skipper who is the face of the franchise is certainly something that must be considered before arriving at a decision, but Kohli must be open to the fact that results have simply not justified him being captain. He may not like it, but the fact of the matter is that the world's best batsman isn't anywhere near the world's best captain.
RCB need to hand over the captaincy to Aaron Finch immediately. If they don't, they might be in for the same disappointment that they've experienced in every single IPL season so far. And for such an entertaining franchise which has steadfastly loyal fans, that would be a terrible shame.
Published 25 Sep 2020, 15:19 IST