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Should Royals use Uthappa as opener?

And was Yuzvendra Chahal's return catch to dismiss Sanju Samson clean? More on Talking Points

Deivarayan Muthu
All the talking points from the clash between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi on Saturday afternoon
Was Chahal's return catch clean?
Virat Kohli usually reserves his premier spinner Yuzvendra Chahal for the middle overs - and sometimes the slog overs - but on Saturday afternoon he gave him a go in the powerplay. Chahal produced a chance with his very first delivery, drawing a feeble chip from Samson. Chahal dived low to his right from his followthrough and with his thumb, index, and middle fingers, he caught the ball. However, it seemed like some part of the ball was touching the ground when he went down. The soft signal was out when it was referred to Pashchim Pathak, the TV umpire, who said: "I have no conclusive evidence to say that the ball touched the ground".
This meant the on-field soft signal of out was upheld and according to ESPNcricinfo's forecaster, the Rajasthan Royals' win probability nosedived from 49.45 to 16.42 after the dismissal of the in-form Samson. The Royals went onto lose the game by eight wickets.
What's ailing Uthappa in the middle order?
Robin Uthappa has looked out of sorts in the middle order this season, managing scores of 5,9,2,17. He couldn't even get going in high-scoring Sharjah and on Saturday afternoon, his form - or lack thereof - applied more pressure on the batsmen around him. After labouring to 17 off 21 balls, he desperately searched for a release, holing out to long-off.
Overall, since IPL 2017, while batting at No.4 or lower, Uthappa has got only 47 runs in ten innings at an average of 4.7 and strike rate of 59.49. For how long could the Royals persist with Uthappa at No.4 or No.5? They don't quite have a ready made like-for-like middle-order swap for him in the reserves. However, captain Steven Smith has the middle-order gears, and has been dismissed swiping and wafting at the ball in the top order in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. So, is there a case for the Royals team management to push Smith down to No.4 and instead make better use of Uthappa's experience at the top?
Why did Gopal bowl two overs in the powerplay?
Because the Royals wanted to match him up with Aaron Finch and Kohli. Before Saturday, the Australian was the only opener in IPL 2020 to have not given his wicket away in the first six overs. However, Finch has been vulnerable to the wrong'un, and the Royal Challengers were looking to exploit that. Gopal's third ball to Finch was a googly, and he missed the sweep. The lbw appeal was shot down, but a review from Smith returned three reds and the on-field not-out decision was ultimately overturned. Finch was dismissed for eight off seven balls.
Enter Kohli. He had only scored 18 runs in his first three games this IPL. Plus, he has lost his wicket to Gopal three times in three previous innings. The game was on. Gopal got a googly to skid in first ball, but it was too short, and Kohli, perhaps, picked it off the pitch and shovelled it into the leg side. Gopal attempted another wrong'un against Kohli in his second over of the powerplay, but dragged it even shorter, and was pulled away for four. Kohli eased himself back into form, finishing with an unbeaten 72 off 53 balls.
Is Unadkat's form a problem for Royals?
Simply put, yes. He has bowled only 12 overs in four matches, leaking nearly ten runs an over while managing a solitary wicket. After an impressive first over from Jofra Archer in Royals' defence of 154, Unadkat began with a leg-stump half-volley that was put away by Devdutt Padikkal for six. Unadkat then went shorter and outside off, but didn't have enough pace to trouble Padikkal. The left-hander dismissed him to the midwicket boundary with a front-foot pull. In all, Padikkal took 22 runs off ten balls from Unadkat and played out the rest of the attack to set up the Royal Challengers' third win in four matches. If the Royals want to give Unadkat a break, then fast bowlers Varun Aaron and Akash Singh are potential replacements.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo