It’s difficult to get noticed in a team that contains Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, but Moeen Ali has definitely made his presence felt at Royal Challengers Bangalore this season.
While Kohli (387), de Villiers (332) and Parthiv Patel (283) have more runs than Moeen (216), his runs have come at the best strike-rate of anyone in the team – 168.75. Moeen played crucial roles in Royal Challengers winning their two most-recent matches. His 66 off 28 balls set the platform for a 200-plus total against Kolkata Knight Riders, and his 26 off 16 ensured Royal Challengers piled on enough – just about – to beat Chennai Super Kings.
“My job in the team is to do that [take the pressure off Kohli and de Villiers],” Moeen said on the eve of Royal Challengers’ match against Kings XI Punjab. “It is very difficult for a team to win if you rely on just two guys batting because they feel the pressure as well. My job is to come and score some runs and be part of the batting group and contribute in winning games.
“I think it gives a lot of confidence if Virat and AB don’t score, or if one of them doesn’t play, like AB didn’t against KKR, we can still score 200-plus. I have the confidence in my own game and belief that I can also score runs just as quick as them and take games away from the opposition. It won’t always happen but I know I can do that.
“I might be a quiet sort of person, but I’m quite confident in my own game. Before I even came to RCB, I said to myself I wanted to score the runs that I could. I know I can do it, it is just going out and having the confidence to do it.”
Apart from Moeen’s contributions, one other feature of Royal Challengers’ last two games was the difference Dale Steyn made to their attack. In their first eight matches of the season, their bowlers had only taken three wickets in the Powerplay overs, at an average of 144.33. In their last two games, they’ve taken seven at an average of 9.85, with Steyn claiming four.
“He’s been massive,” Moeen said. “We didn’t take wickets in Powerplays and now since he has come, we’ve been taking wickets. When you take two, three, four wickets [in Powerplays], most of the time you’re going to win the game.
“I think just the name of Dale Steyn [is enough], well he has not played much in the last couple of years, but he still has class. The way he bowls, the swing… he pitches it up, he’s quite brave in the way he bowls. It’s probably the thing that we’ve been lacking in this team and it has cost us in a few games. But having him has been huge for our bowlers as well – the way he sets the tone in the first couple of overs. Anybody can get smashed but he has been fantastic.”
Wednesday’s game will be Moeen’s last of the season before he leaves to join England’s camp ahead of the World Cup. This means he will miss at least three games for Royal Challengers.
“It’s not ideal, obviously,” Moeen said. “I think it’s worse when there’re three games to go, that there’s not much cricket left and you always think, ‘I could’ve played those three games.’ If there were six, seven games, it was a little more understandable. But it’s a small window. And knowing that there could be a chance of going through if we win all our games, then you miss out on a potential semi-final and stuff.
“But I’ll definitely keep an eye out and see how they’re going, hoping that we’re winning all our games. It’s also difficult to leave a team, especially when I’m in a bit of form and I want to keep going in the IPL, trying to improve my game. I feel like I’m a big part of the boys and I’ll miss them. It’s a shame but there’s obviously the World Cup which is very important as well.”
Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1181868.html?CMP=OTC-RSS