Virat Kohli was stumped by the nature of the pitch at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in the first 4 pm game at the venue this season. The Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper's reaction came in the wake of 415 runs being scored in 40 overs.
As has been the trend in the tournament, Kohli opted to field after winning the toss against Rajasthan Royals. The decision could well have been based on how the slow pitch played on Friday in their contest against Kings XI Punjab. Much to everyone's surprise, it was anything but slow. So much so that even Ajinkya Rahane, the Rajasthan Royals skipper, was perplexed by the nature of the surface.
While the ball did appear to grip the surface early in the Rajasthan's innings, there was little to suggest stroke-making was going to be a tough act. Shrewd change of pace was still worth the gamble, as demonstrated by Chris Woakes's end to Rahane's short but enterprising innings early on. But as the game progressed, gauging the pace of the wicket became a lot easier.
"After looking at the pitch early on, we were surprised by how it played. We thought it was going to be slower than how it played, but the ball came nicely onto the bat - even in the first innings it kept coming on nicely and even when it got old. That surprised us a little bit. We thought it isn't going to be a 200-plus wicket at any stage," Kohli said in a post-match press conference.
"When we saw the wicket, we thought it was going to be slower than the previous game because there was even lesser grass on this one. But it didn't turn out that way."
Following the success of his bowling unit in the previous fixture - led ably by Umesh Yadav and Washington Sundar - RCB decided it was time for a departure from the practised five-bowler theory. Out went Sarfaraz Khan, making room for all-rounder Pawan Negi, whose left-arm orthodox spin fetched 16 wickets last season. By the time he finished bowling his only over [14th] - conceding 13 - RR's scoring rate was bordering on nine-an-over.
"We wanted an extra bowling option. We wanted that bit of cushion not to pressurise the five bowlers that much, and use him whenever the situation allows us to. The opposition played him well as well as the other bowlers," offered Kohli.
RCB gave away 13, 15, 16, 17 and 27 in the last five overs, tipping the RR total way past the 200-run mark. Despite launching a staunch defence of his bowlers on what he termed a 'big, big batting day', Kohli was left wondering if they could've finished better and cut down the target by 10-15 runs, which would've been the difference between a victory and defeat.
"When you concede 200, it is always tough. We got 200  as well, but just because we lost, we need to sit down and think how and where things went down," rued the Indian skipper.
"In hindsight, we have to sit down and discuss if we could've been more composed when they were going really well, and try to have given 10-15 runs lesser because we got 200 already. That would've given us confidence. 20-plus runs in the last 2-3 overs is a big, big margin.
"The last game was a really good bowling performance from us. Tonight was just a difficult day for bowlers overall. We got 420 runs , it was a big, big batting day. I don't think the bowlers need to be too harsh on themselves."
"When the opposition batsmen are in that kind of a flow, you give credit to them as well. They executed their shots and plans really well. We need to accept it and move forward."
RCB will have put behind the past in haste. Mostly because they don't have much of a choice as they next head to Mumbai for a game on Tuesday - their third in five days.
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