‘The greatness of Virat has been reduced…’: Matthew Hayden raises concern ahead of IPL 2024 opener | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden emphasized that Virat Kohli could pose a significant threat if allowed to bat for an extended period, especially on a challenging Chepauk pitch during the IPL opener against Royal Challengers Bengaluru.
Kohli will make his return to IPL action following a paternity break, which caused him to miss the five-Test series against England at home.The highly anticipated T20 extravaganza will commence with a showdown between Chennai Super Kings and RCB at the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai on Friday.
“His record is a 30 average at Chepauk stadium with a strike rate of 111. Someone like Virat, even the greatness of Virat has been reduced in terms of his overall performance at that venue,” Hayden told Star Sports.
“It is a tricky venue to bat on, especially as an opening batsman. It gets a weird tennis ball type bounce, it’s quite slow and difficult to play shots early, but the longer you bat, the game opens up and that’s where Virat can be at his most dangerous.
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“It’s really tricky, so they’re going to need Virat Kohli out early inside the powerplay. They’ve done so thrice over the last 5 innings, and they’ll need to do so for the 4th time.”
Hayden stated that Kohli could seize control of the game if he remains at the crease for an extended period.
“If he is prepared to bat the 20 overs, he can put together a match-winning performance. 200 is very accessible at Chinnaswamy but not necessarily at Chepauk Stadium,” he said.
“A 150, 130 at times has been plenty of runs when you get guys as good as (Ravindra) Jadeja there who bowls stump to stump with the odd ball to turn and the odd ball that stays low.”
Kohli, who last played against Afghanistan in the T20 series in January, has been in red-hot form, having scored 765 runs in the ODI World Cup last November to become the second-highest run scorer in the history of the tournament.
“Virat’s form is brilliant. I don’t remember the last time he’s played so well for so long. Yeah, he is a big player, but the last 2 years, he’s been amazing. In the World Cup, he became the player of the tournament and the hunger and desire to score runs make him a big player,” said former India batter Mohammed Kaif.
“We already know he’s a great player, but every innings, he wants to play a match-winning innings, make the team win whether it’s for India or RCB.
“This hunger has been self-made and now that he’s come back from a break, he’ll be fresh for the IPL and his form and strike rate, whether you look at it in the World Cup or IPL, he’s hitting fours and sixes whenever he feels like. So he knows how to up his strike rate and he’s doing it very well.”
Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh feels the onus will be on batters to win games for RCB as their bowling looks a bit brittle.
“Chinnaswamy is a batting paradise, there’s no doubt about it. But you need to get people out to win games. With RCB, if you look at their side, they have always had batting. But the problem with RCB has been the bowling.
“The best thing you can do this season, if they are batting first, doesn’t matter, look to get 230, 240… they must target at least 220 or 230, because a 20-run margin can probably win them more number of games,” Harbhajan said.
“Not to forget, they have to rely on their bowlers to get the important wickets in the first six overs.”
(With inputs from PTI)

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