Another season, same perennial problem - Shocking bowling returns for RCB in IPL 2024 | Crickit
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Another season, same perennial problem - Shocking bowling returns for RCB in IPL 2024

Apr 20, 2024 06:02 PM IST

RCB's bowling has gone down by a few notches in this edition and RCB find themselves on the verge of playoff elimination this year.

They are languishing at the bottom of the table with six losses from seven matches. It is the same old story season after season. While their batters have put in some decent performances in the 17th edition of the IPL, it is their bowlers who have again let them down. And big-time! The Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) have never won the most prestigious league in the world and for good reason. A top-heavy batting line-up with some all-time greats and other big overseas imports, has time and again neglected their bowling unit and suffered the consequences. It is the same script in 2024. In fact, their bowling has gone down by a few notches in this edition and RCB find themselves on the verge of playoff elimination this year.

Royal Challengers Bengaluru's Virat Kohli and Mohammed Siraj during the match against Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League 2024(ANI)
Royal Challengers Bengaluru's Virat Kohli and Mohammed Siraj during the match against Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League 2024(ANI)

The least wickets, worst bowling average, strike rate and economy

The RCB bowlers have a massive wicket-taking problem this season. They have, as a collective, bagged just 28 wickets in seven matches which is, by far, the lowest for any team in the tournament. Their average of 4 wickets per match is not only the lowest for any team this season but also their personal worst in any edition. RCB returned with 65 wickets in 14 matches in the inaugural season in 2008 which was, on an average, 4.6 wickets per innings – their previous worst returns per match in a season. The RCB bowlers have dislodged more than 5 opposition batters just once in the tournament (they took six wickets against Punjab Kings).

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RCB, as a bowling unit, also have the worst bowling average (49.8) and strike rate (27.9) this season. Just to give some perspective on how bad it has been for their bowlers this year, the second-worst team on this count – the Sunrisers Hyderabad – have a bowling average of 37.2! If the numbers hold it will again be the worst performance by RCB in terms of bowling average ever in a season.

To add more salt to their wounds, RCB’s bowlers have been unable to control the flow of runs in the competition. Their combined economy rate of 10.7 is the worst for any team this year. If they do not see a reversal in trends in the second half of the tournament, then again 2024 could be the most expensive for their bowling unit. Their previous worst performance on this parameter was last season when they conceded at a rate of 9.3 per over.

Abysmal performance in the powerplay

The RCB bowlers have picked a total of just four wickets in seven innings in the powerplay this season – by far, the lowest for any team. To make matters worse, their bowlers have also been tonked around the park and have an economy of 10.5 in this phase of play – again the worst for any team in the first six overs. In fact, no other bowling unit has gone at above 10 per over in the tournament. The RCB bowlers have conceded a boundary every 3.7 deliveries in the powerplay which is the worst frequency for any team in the competition.

The dramatic fall of Mohammed Siraj

Mohammed Siraj was exceptional with the new ball in IPL 2023 returning with 10 wickets in 14 matches in 30 overs at an average of 17.8 and economy of 5.9. The Indian speedster has witnessed a dramatic reversal in fortunes this season. Siraj has picked just one solitary wicket in six innings in the powerplay in 2024. He has looked listless and been hammered for 123 runs in 10 overs in the first 6 overs. Siraj’s economy rate of 12.3 is the worst for any bowler (min. 5 overs) in this phase of play.

Even more worrying is the number of boundaries he has conceded within the fielding restrictions. Siraj has been smashed for 10 fours and as many sixes and his balls per boundary ratio of 3 is the worst for any bowler in the powerplay.

Where is the quality spinner?

Yuzvendra Chahal is the highest wicket-taker in IPL history and on the verge of becoming the first one to make it to the 200-Club in the tournament. Nearly 70% of those wickets were for RCB! Chahal was the trump card for the franchise controlling the middle overs picking crucial wickets and keeping the opposition batters on a tight leash during his long stint with them between 2014 and 2021.

RCB replaced Chahal (in a shockingly bizarre move) with Wanindu Hasaranga who also gave decent returns bagging 35 wickets in 26 appearances at an economy of just over 8. However, the Sri Lankan leg spinner had a modest season with the ball in 2023 and was released by the RCB ahead of the 2024 auction. What was more baffling though was that they did not go all-out in search for a world class spinner to fill the void. Given that their home ground at the Chinnaswamy is a belter with small dimensions, the role of a high-quality leg spinner assumes even more significance for RCB!

RCB’s spin unit has bagged just seven wickets in the tournament – the second-lowest only after Mumbai Indians. They have also leaked runs at a rate of 10.5 per over – again, the second-most expensive after the Sunrisers. Thus, neither have they made any inroads nor been able to stem the flow of runs in the middle overs. Overall, in the 7-16 phase of play, RCB have the second-worst bowling average and economy rate.

Glenn Maxwell has been the best spinner for RCB this season with four wickets at an economy of 8.4. That is a story in itself! The rest – leg spinner, Karn Sharma, slow left-arm orthodox, Mayank Dagar and the part-time off spinner, Will Jacks, have all failed miserably with the ball.

No relief at the death

The RCB bowlers haven’t fared any better in the slog overs too. They have picked just six wickets (second-fewest) in the 17-20 phase with an economy of 12.3. While Siraj has redeemed an iota of his lost powerplay pride in the death overs where he has a good economy rate of 8.3, most of the other RCB bowlers have been very expensive in the final 4 overs. While Reece Topley has gone at 14.3 runs per over, Alzarri Joseph – who was known to be a specialist at the death – has gone wicketless while conceding at a rate of 12.8 per over.

The RCB need a complete overhaul in their thought process. They need to revamp their bowling unit to give themselves the best chance of winning their first IPL trophy. If not, they will never be real contenders and remain the perennial Challengers.

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