Bangalore, Apr 11: When Royal Challengers Bangalore splashed $1.6 million on Saurabh Tiwary during last year's Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, it came as a huge surprise not only to the RCB fans but even the player himself might have been stunned. There were questions whether Tiwary deserved such a huge price-tag. And even to this day, there are no answers as the youngster is yet to make any notable contribution to the team.
RCB had to spend more than what they needed, to buy the South African AB de Villiers. While De Villiers received $1.1 million, Tiwary's stakes raised half million more than the South African. De Villiers has been a vital player in RCB line-up, both in front and behind the stumps.
The 22-year-old left-hander from Jharkhand, first played in IPL for Mumbai Indians. He did impress under the captaincy of Sachin Tendulkar. Having got the India cap with some eye-catching performances in IPL, he came into the auction pool as an international player. For the record, he has played 3 One Day Internationals for the country.
Since wearing the RCB jersey in 2011, he has played 16 games in IPL 4. In 13 innings with the bat, he tallied only 187 runs off 188 balls with a highest score of 42 not out at an average of 23.37 and a strike rate of 99.46. Of the 13 visits to the crease, he remained unbeaten on five occasions, which has boosted his average.
Last year, RCB was all about West Indies explosive opener Chris Gayle. It was Gayle's superb starts at the beginning of the innings which took the pressure off the middle order. Hence, Tiwary's failures went unnoticed.
With a new season of IPL beginning, Tiwary's place in the side might be questioned sooner than later. In two games of IPL 5, he has 19 runs with a highest of 18 in a losing cause on Tuesday at home against Kolkata Knight Riders.
Tiwary needs to fire at the earliest to secure his place in the playing XI. He is becoming a million-dollar liability for the Vijay Mallya-owned team.
He has the ability to bring out the big shots. He had a great opportunity on Tuesday to pull his team out of the woods and take them to victory after the top order failed. Moments like these need to be seized.
If Gayle goes cheaply in the next couple of matches, the middle order will be under immense pressure. If Virat Kohli and De Villiers also join Gayle in the dugout early, the rest of the RCB batting looks brittle.
The time has come for Tiwary to play like a million-dollar batsman. If not, he needs to be dropped from the team. The next few games could decide whether Tiwary remains a RCB boy or be forced to find a new home for IPL 6.