ESPNcricinfo understands he has mailed SLC of his intentions, and that the board will take a decision on the matter at a meeting on Tuesday
Angelo Mathews could be in line for a return to the Sri Lanka fold after making himself available for selection again. While there has been no official communication from either Sri Lanka Cricket or Mathews in this regard, ESPNcricinfo understands Mathews had mailed SLC of his intentions and that the board will take a final decision on the matter at a meeting on Tuesday.
Mathews had made himself unavailable for selection earlier this year, saying he was disillusioned by the treatment he and other seniors had received during a months-long contract standoff. Under the central contracts offered by the board, Mathews was set to take a pay cut in the range of USD 50,000 (LKR 99,50,000 approx).
During this period Mathews, along with fellow seniors Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal, had also been dropped from the limited-overs sides as Sri Lanka focused on a youthful overhaul of their white-ball squads.
By the time the contracts standoff was resolved, Mathews had already made his discontent clear and ruled himself out of selection, while there were even murmurs of a possible retirement. Since then, however, Chandimal has found himself back in Sri Lanka’s limited-overs side – he has even made the cut for the upcoming T20 World Cup – while the year-long bans handed out to Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis for their biosecure bubble breach in Durham has left Sri Lanka’s batting light on experience.
If Mathews does in fact return to the Sri Lanka fold, his first involvement will likely be a home Test series against West Indies in November, followed by the Lanka Premier League in December.
Recent Match Report – RCB vs KKR Eliminator 2021
It was one of the great IPL all-round performances, as Narine’s 4 for 21 and 15-ball 26 swung, and changed, the match
Kolkata Knight Riders 139 for 6 (Gill 29, Narine 26, Iyer 26, Chahal 2-16, Harshal 2-19, Siraj 2-19) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 138 for 7 (Kohli 39, Narine 4-21, Ferguson 2-30) by four wickets
Three balls of Sunil Narine, with the bat, changed the game, putting Kolkata Knight Riders one step closer to the IPL final.
It was tough though. Royal Challengers Bangalore were defending a total of 138 with fearsome spirit.
The score was 80 for 3 in the 12th over. The Sharjah slowdown was well and truly on. On this pitch an equation that reads 59 from 51 can be dicey. You can’t leave it too late. Too many variables. So Knight Riders sent in their pinch hitter and he went 6, 6, (wide) and 6.
Three balls of Narine changed the game. Twenty-four balls earlier had set it up. Royal Challengers actually had a solid powerplay – 53 for 1 at 8.8. Then he came on and the runs dried up. Only 60 came off the next 11 overs. 60 for 4 at 5.45.
Virat Kohli. Clean bowled. AB de Villiers. Clean Bowled. Glenn Maxwell. Completely deceived. Most people need a cheat code and a computer screen to pull that off. Narine doesn’t. He imposed video game logic on this real life game and turned it in Knight Riders’ favour.
Pressure was mounting on Kohli. He had slowed down once again after the powerplay – 24 off 16 and 15 off 17 – and his desperation was apparent. Narine knew that in these situations, batters often forget about the basics and just swing across the line. Even one as good as Kohli was susceptible to this weakness as a straightforward offbreak sneaked through his defences.
WATCH – Narine clobbers three back-to-back sixes
Taking down the big boys
Doing de Villiers required a bit more subtlety. Royal Challengers’ talisman had come out with a plan. It involved thrusting his front foot outside off stump to eliminate lbw, and playing across it. Narine, though, spotted the smallest gap between bat and pad and he targeted it with missile-like precision. Pace, drift, length and spin – everything came together as de Villiers played all around an offbreak and lost his middle stump.
That only left Maxwell. And having to do all the heavy lifting with time running out and the spinners closing in, even those invincible sweep shots of his suddenly looked not quite invincible. Narine got him to top edge one straight into the hands of short third.
Knight Riders had saved their mystery spinner for Royal Challengers’ big three. And it worked a treat. Twelve runs. Seventeen balls. And three massive wickets.
Kohli wanted this one badly. He got in the face of the umpire when he made a poor decision. When the resulting DRS proved how plumb the lbw was he roared like only he can. He had said this would be his last season as captain in the IPL. He would have imagined signing off with that big shiny trophy. So he kept going to his match-winners.
Harshal Patel has the honour in 2021 and he responded by knocking out Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer. Those two wickets took his season tally to 32, an IPL record, tied with 2013 Dwayne Bravo.
Yuzvendra Chahal has had the honour for pretty much the entire time Royal Challengers have been around. He created the DRS drama.
Dan Christian has had the honour in various T20 leagues around the world. Even at 38, he broke into the Australian World Cup squad on the basis of that. But here he missed his areas. Narine pulled a short ball that didn’t rise high enough for six over square leg to start his innings. Then he launched a length ball on leg stump over midwicket. And to top it off, he cleared the long-off boundary with one hand. Just one hand. That brought the required rate down from 6.9 to 4.8.
And though Royal Challengers continued to fight – Mohammed Siraj took two wickets in the 18th over to throw the game open again – Eoin Morgan and Shakib Al Hasan harnessed over 600 T20s worth of experience to eventually seal the game.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
KKR vs RCB, IPL 2021, eliminator – ‘Given my 120% to this franchise every year’
Says he will continue to play only for RCB as “my commitment is to this franchise till the last day I play the IPL”
Virat Kohli‘s IPL captaincy stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore, spanning 11 seasons, 2011 to 2021, came to an end on Monday with his team bowing out of IPL 2021 in the eliminator. While he might have endured as many losses as victories in his time in charge (140 games, 64 wins, 69 losses, three ties, four no-results), through the ups and downs, Kohli said, he had given his all to the franchise as a leader, and tried to create an environment that let players express themselves.
“I’ve tried my best to create a culture here where youngsters could come in and play expressive cricket, play with belief. It’s something I’ve tried to do at the Indian team level as well,” Kohli told host broadcaster Star Sports after the four-wicket defeat, Kolkata Knight Riders having squeezed home with two balls to spare in a chase of 139. “All I can say is that I’ve given my best. I don’t know how the response has been to that, but I can vouch for the fact that I’ve given my 120% to this franchise every year, leading the team.
“And as I said, I will continue to give that effort on the field as a player from now on. It’s a great time to regroup, restructure the franchise for the next three years, and bring in people who can take this culture and this franchise to the next level, moving forward.”
Kohli reiterated that he will continue to play for only Royal Challengers in the IPL. “As I said, I don’t see myself playing anywhere else. To me loyalty matters more than other things which, from the worldly point of view, seem more important. This franchise has believed in me and my commitment is to this franchise till the last day I play the IPL.”
While Royal Challengers finished fourth in IPL 2021, still looking for their first title win, they had a largely successful season. They had nine wins in 14 games in the league stage, and only missed out on a top-two finish to Chennai Super Kings on net run rate. They also had several players putting together outstanding seasons. Chief among them was pacer Harshal Patel, who ended with 32 wickets, the joint-highest in an IPL season.
WATCH – Sunil Narine’s game-changing spell
Harshal credited Kohli and the Royal Challengers management for his growth as a bowler, and said that while Kohli will not be the captain anymore, he will always remain a leader within the franchise.
“Obviously every one knows the kind of energy and passion Virat brings to the field. He backs bowlers, gives them their space, allows them to execute their skills and plans. So I’m very thankful to him,” Harshal said. “I’ve learned a lot playing with him, since I think 2012. In terms of his captaincy, there are captains and there are leaders, and he’s definitely a leader. Just because he won’t have the tag of a captain doesn’t make him any less of a leader.
“I’ve said this many times earlier too, the RCB management and Virat showed a lot of confidence in me from the start. Till this year, I had never bowled in the death overs in the IPL. I had bowled [in domestic cricket] for Haryana [at the death] but never in the IPL. To then give me that responsibility, they would have definitely seen something in me. They made the decision that I’ll be bowling the most difficult overs. I’m very grateful for the faith that they have shown in me.
“I was the same bowler I am today probably last year [when he played for Delhi Capitals]. But the fact that I didn’t get enough opportunities… and coming back here to RCB and straightaway being given the responsibility of bowling the death overs, that definitely made a difference.”
Kohli’s best result with Royal Challengers was in 2016, when he led them to the final. They had also reached the final in 2011, but Daniel Vettori was the regular captain that season, with Kohli standing in in three league games. They finished third in 2015, and also went out in the eliminator last season. In 2012-2014 and 2017-2019, they did not make the playoffs, finishing bottom of the league twice in that latter period.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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