IPL 2023: Virat Kohli’s knock fuels ‘dying’ anchors debate in T20 cricket

New Delhi, May 7

Virat Kohli’s 55 runs off 46 balls in a losing cause against Delhi Capitals have fuelled the growing debate on the “dying” role of anchors in the T20 format.

Chasing 182, Phil Salt put on a masterclass of T20 batting as he went hammer and tongs from ball one to ensure Delhi mowed down the target with 20 balls to spare.

In contrast to the home team’s approach, RCB trudged to 23 for no loss in the first four overs before breaking loose to end with 51 in the powerplay.

Kohli’s approach of “taking the game deep” was understandable considering the non-performance of the middle-order but it potentially cost them 20 extra runs for what could have a been a winning total at the Feroz Shah Kotla. He scored 19 off the first 18 balls he faced.

The game is changing rapidly and this IPL already has the most number of 200-plus totals scored in a season. The batters are striving to add muscle to their game to stay relevant in the shortest format.

The boom or bust approach has become the need of the hour and Salt epitomised that on Saturday night.

Earlier in the season, Delhi head coach Ricky Ponting also expressed his doubts over the future of anchors in T20s.

“I’m a believer in, you know, if you’ve got aggressive, powerful batsman, they can change their game to play the anchor role, but anchor role players can very rarely change to be that 200 strike rate. The only one I can think of this year is Rahane,” the Australian legend had said ahead of the Sunrisers game.

“I feel probably that anchor role is dying off a little bit, but it also just comes down to how you’re going on the day as an individual batsman. Sometimes you just don’t get off to the start that you want to and therefore you’re almost sort of forced to play a different role.

“It’s a day-by-day thing, but I think the actual role of someone batting an opening or batting at number three and trying to bat through the entire innings I think that’s dying off.” RCB skipper Faf du Plessis felt that 181 was a par score but was quick to add that an over of 15 or 20 runs could have probably made the difference in the game. That big over could have come in the powerplay.

While Kohli went about his business and collected his sixth half-century of the season, it was the fearlessness of Mahipal Lomror that allowed RCB to post 181.

After his best knock of the IPL in over six seasons, the Rajasthan batter explained the team’s tactics when he and Kohli were in the middle.

“The plan was simple when Virat bhaiya and I were batting, he will try to take the game deep and I will push for a boundary of two in every over. The ball was turning a bit but I took some risks and it paid off,” said Lomror referring to the couple of sixes he collected off Kuldeep Yadav.

He also feels anchoring an innings remains an important part of the game.

“In any game, it is not easy for a new batter to hit from ball one irrespective of the wicket. It makes a huge difference if someone has played 30-40 balls compared to a new batter.

“That is why anchor becomes important. When a settled batter is in the middle, the chances are higher that he will get more boundaries in the end that the new batter,” said Lomror.

He felt they put up a good total considering the conditions and the bowlers could have done better.

With four games left and the playoff race heating, RCB cannot afford to put a foot wrong and going into the next game, they might be served better with an all-out approach.

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