In an Indian Premier League that pulls in the biggest stars of cricket, Royal Challengers Bangalore have stood out for the ‘galacticos’ in their ranks. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Even if two of their big guns --- Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, skipper Virat Kohli and Shane Watson --- boom in a game, the opposition will find it difficult against the Bangalore side that has risen and fallen with their batsmen. (SCORECARD)
However, at the halfway mark in the 2017 IPL, Virat Kohli’s team are virtually at the bottom of the table after Tuesday’s return tie against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad was abandoned at Bangalore’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium due to heavy rain.
RCB and Sunrisers Hyderabad got one point each. It lifted RCB to sixth in the table with five points, though that could prove temporary. Sunrisers Hyderabad remain third with nine points.
IPL 2016 REPEAT?
RCB can be written off at one’s peril. Last season, they came racing up the points table by winning six of their seven games as they finished runners-up.
However, this time things look dire. What should the legion of RCB fans expect now? After collapsing for the lowest IPL total of 49 in the 82-run defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders, they won’t get their hopes high of the team making it past the league stage.
A lack of momentum at the beginning, with both Kohli and de Villiers not starting the season due to injury, has hurt RCB. Gayle has scored just 144 runs in five innings, and if one takes out the 77 in a 122-run match-winning partnership with his skipper, four innings have fetched only 77 runs.
Shane Watson has hardly been the impact all-rounder with the seasoned Aussie scoring 61 runs in four innings with the highest of 24. Add two wickets to that, and it is average.
Virat Kohli, despite his first-ball duck against KKR, has been steady, scoring 62, 28 and 64, since joining the side. The only Indian batsman other than Kohli who has been consistent is Kedar Jadhav, who has scored 175 runs in the seven games RCB played ahead of Tuesday’s washout.
NO SUPPORT FOR KEDAR
But he has got little support from all-rounder Stuart Binny, who averages 19.25 in seven games with a highest score of 18 not out. The experiment of using batsman Vishnu Vinod didn’t work.
The absence of opener KL Rahul and Aussie spearhead Mitchell Starc this season due to injury is a big blow for RCB. And in a season where fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada (both Delhi Daredevils), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad) Mitchell McClenaghan (MI) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (KKR) have been so effective, RCB’s men have not fired.
Left-arm paceman, Tymal Mills, regarded as a T20 specialist, has only five wickets to show in five games. The top three wicket-takers are all spinners, with leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (10 wickets) alone reaching double figures.
The bowlers’ mantra for 2017 IPL is about taking wickets with clever variations also keeping the batsmen guessing. But it is not an area where RCB have looked very convincing.
The failure to chase down 162 at home against Rising Pune Supergiant, a team whose bowling was one of the weakest at that point, showed RCB are struggling to get the balance of the side right.
Virat Kohli and de Villiers read the riot act after the capitulation against KKR at the Eden Gardens, but it will take a lot for the team to respond.