“Our batting side is alright, it’s not heavily dependent on them.”
That was Mandeep Singh, in response to the perennial question about whether Royal Challengers Bangalore’s batting revolved too much around Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. After the South African hit a match-winning 90 not out off 39 balls to beat Delhi Daredevils by six wickets on Saturday (April 21), the dependence on the duo seemed reinforced, but Mandeep was insisted the team would not sink or swim solely depending on how well their talismanic twosome did.
“According to me, they’re the world’s best batsmen and a lot of people see them and say that only they can win the match and we are heavily dependent on them,” said Mandeep after the match. “If they’re in any team, it’s a sure thing that everyone will be looking at them only.”
Mandeep, 26, has been at the non-striker’s end for each of de Villiers’s two half-centuries in the Indian Premier League 2018 – against King XI Punjab and Saturday’s knock against Delhi. He’s complemented his senior partner well on both occasions, as well as in seasons past with Bangalore. Mandeep explained that when batting with Kohli or de Villiers, his strategy was to read the situation and play accordingly.
“If you see, the game we won against KXIP, I was batting with him (de Villiers). I had the temptation to go for the big shot but I made my mind very clear that if we stay for another three-four overs, the game will be ours,” said Mandeep. “So I made it very clear that I’m not going to try some stupid shot over here and get out and we just need to build a partnership over here and we will win the game.”
A level-headed approach while chasing was needed after Rishabh Pant’s brilliant knock of 85 off 48 once again exposed the faults of the Bangalore bowling attack in the death overs. It was a slow start for Delhi but a 75-run partnership between Shreyas Iyer and Pant laid the springboard as Delhi managed 69 runs in the last 27 balls to finish at 174 for 5. Pant, who was ‘keeping and witnessed the Delhi bowlers being taken apart by de Villiers, pointed out that batting became easier as the night went on.
“In the first innings, the ball was turning much actually but in the second innings, the ball just turned a little bit and that made all the difference, the way AB played,” felt Pant. “Because of the dew, it got better in the second innings but that is a part of the game and we planned it out perfectly but we lost the match unfortunately.”
Mandeep also agreed with Pant, saying that the difference was made when Rahul Tewatia was brought on to bowl his leggies.
“I think even when we were bowling, the first few overs spun,” held Mandeep. “The dew was very heavy today and the ball got wet, it was coming nicely on the bat in the later part of the innings. Same happened with our innings as well. When they bowled with the new ball, it was spinning quite a lot but when Rahul Tewatia came, I think he was not able to turn that ball that much.”
But on a night when the M Chinnaswamy Stadium was witness to yet another de Villiers masterclass, Mandeep had words of praise for his friend, Pant, who he said reminded him of a young Yuvraj Singh.
“When we were younger, we used to talk about Yuvraj Singh and how he used to hit the most sixes. I think in our generation now and in our time, Rishabh Pant is one name who can hit sixes any time and has a lot of ability,” said Mandeep.
Bangalore’s next match is against Chennai Super Kings on April 25 while Delhi take on Kings XI Punjab on April 23.