If Virat Kohli goes on to score runs for RCB, it means the team will go forward: Harbhajan Singh

"It's important for Kohli to have a season like 2016," said Singh further.

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Harbhajan speaks on importance of Kohli scoring runs in IPL

In exclusive interviews with Star Sports on the show ‘Game Plan’, former cricketers Matthew Hayden and Harbhajan Singh shared their insights on the upcoming IPL 2024 season, focusing on the iconic clash between Indian stalwarts MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli as they face each other in the tournament opener on 22nd March 2024. Hayden addressed the form of Virat Kohli at Chepauk in previous editions of IPL. Where Harbhajan wants to see Virat to showcase his 2016 form and dominate the bowlers. Additionally, Matthew Hayden and Harbhajan Singh share their thoughts on rivalry between Glen Maxwell and Ravindra Jadeja and who probably win the battle in the key opening clash between RCB vs CSK. Both the experts emphasize on the ability of Maxwell and what he can do on his day by outperforming any bowler. 

Matthew Hayden spoke on Virat Kohli playing at Chepauk stadium against Chennai Super Kings, he said. “Virat enjoys a great record against the Chennai Super Kings but since 2021 in the power play MS Dhoni has done something different. In three out of the five innings, he's gotten out within the power plays. Well one thing for certain, it is a blockbuster showdown, Virat Kohli pretty much this year is going to be celebrated across all the games. His average is 30 at Chepauk Stadium with a strike rate of 111. So straight away that shows the greatness of Virat has been reduced in terms of his overall performance at that venue. It is a tricky venue to bat on, especially as an opening batsman against a sort of weird tennis ball type bounce. It's a quite slow and difficult, especially to play his shots early, and then the long he seems to bat the game opens up and that's where Virat can be at his most dangerous.

If he's actually prepared about 20 overs he can put together a match-winning performance because two hundreds that are very accessible at Chinnaswamy are not necessary at Chepauk Stadium. A 156, a fighting, 130 at times has been plenty of runs. When you get guys as good as Harbhajan Singh bowling at those venues and they've got the great Jadeja there bowling stump to stump. He'll get the oddball to turn and then the oddball to stay low. It's really tricky. So they're going to need Virat Kohli out early up inside that power play. They've done so thrice over the last five innings and they'll need to do so for the fourth time.”

Former Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh also spoke on Virat Kohli repeating his 2016 form again in 2024, he said, “Well, it's important for him to have a season like 2016, because if Virat Kohli goes on to score runs for them, it means the team will go forward. But I don't know if they go on to win the cup or not, but with the brilliant individuals they have in their team—Virat Kohli, Maxwell, Green, and a few more like Patidar—so I believe they have a lot of good batting, and everyone wants Virat Kohli to make that comeback from 2016 and score heavily at the top. If that happens, they will have a great chance to go forward."

Harbhajan Singh spoke on Maxwell playing against spin in Chennai, he said,Talking about the opening encounter in Chepauk, and towards the battle swinging, it’s going towards Jadeja's side, because this is a tough venue for any batter. As Hayden has mentioned, very rightly, if you are an opening batsman, you have to give yourself time in this venue. And once you settle, the whole game opens up. Then you can score runs at ease. You can score runs at the pace you want. But this is not the kind of a ground where you hit sixes at will. Where on this kind of a ground, someone like Maxwell coming in the middle over straight away, you have to face spin bowling.

It is a big task. It is a big task for anyone to just go out there and start hitting those sixes. You have to give yourself time to play in singles and doubles. That's the kind of game work here. If you don't play ten balls here before you start hitting those boundaries, I think you're putting yourself in a danger zone. You can get out any time. So in this particular battle, I think Jadeja will be ahead of Maxwell on that wicket, where it will do a little bit for Jadeja. It will hold a bit. There will be a bit of side spin as well. So Jadeja will be very handy there and Maxwell will not only be as good as he would be in Wankhede or Chinnaswamy.”

Hayden and Harbhajan Singh spoke on  Maxwell’s capabilities of being an explosive batman, Matthew said,Maxwell’s most potent matchup is actually Chennai Super Kings. He's got a strike rate of 187 against Chennai Super Kings, averaging 30. But he scores almost 20% of his team's runs. Now, that's not just RCB through the course of his IPL career. So it's the juicy one that Maxwell likes. And it's a bit of a dark horse, because I would agree completely that you'd back Jadeja over a Maxwell. But he is Maxwell. He has got that X factor, that weirdness about the way that he goes about his match play that can take an opposition side out of their comfort zone, promote panic, and then win a game of cricket off his own. But he's one of those unique characters. Backing Jadeja, but be cautious of Maxwell, because he loves Chennai Super Kings as a match-up. And there's not too many batters in world cricket that you can actually say that.”

Harbhajan Singh backing his decision to chose Jadeja said,Yes, I've chosen Jadeja over Maxwell. The reason being that of Chepauk's wicket. But yes, Maxwell is being Maxwell. He is that phenomenal batsman who actually won the World Cup recently for Australia. If he hadn't played that inning against Afghanistan, he scored 200 on one leg and hit sixes which was not easy. On his day, there's no one who can match Maxwell. When He is in form nobody, no bowler can stop him, whether you are Bumrah or anyone. On Maxwell's day, he is unstoppable. But on this wicket, yes, it will be hard for anyone to start hitting sixes from the ball one. But the only person who can do is, is Maxwell. Let’s see who win this rivalry.”

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