RCB woes blamed on meek batting despite Virat Kohli form | Crickit
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RCB woes blamed on meek batting despite Virat Kohli form

Apr 07, 2024 09:31 PM IST

His lack of explosiveness despite hitting a century and the failure of power-hitters in the loss to RR shows the team again in poor light

On paper, the firepower Royal Challengers Bengaluru have in their ranks looks quite intimidating. Somehow it is once again not translating into results as the initial matches in IPL 2024 show.

Virat Kohli plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bengaluru(PTI)
Virat Kohli plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bengaluru(PTI)

RCB's campaign has got off to a disastrous start. Saturday’s defeat against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur was their fourth in five matches, which consigned them to the ninth spot in the IPL points table. They remain there, tied on two points each with Mumbai Indians – they won their first game on Sunday to be eighth – and Delhi Capitals, who are last.

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To salvage their season, RCB are in desperate need to have a relook at their approach. The T20 format is changing virtually every match, but are their players adapting?

T20 is an ultimate team game today. On Saturday, Virat Kohli was left to play the lone ranger against Royals. He scored an unbeaten 113 off 72 balls (12x4, 4x6) but RCB managed only 183/3 in 20 overs. RR eased to victory in the end, surpassing the target in 19.1 overs, thanks to Jos Buttler’s 58-ball 100 not out after a 148-run partnership with Sanju Samson (69-42b).

It was a tremendous effort from RCB's star batter. Kohli is in great touch, but when he bats big does he have that extra gear to put the game out of the opposition’s reach?

On Saturday, Buttler trumped Kohli’s hundred. Last season in RCB’s final league game, Shubman Gill overshadowed him. At the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, after Kohli’s 101 off 61 balls had helped RCB to a total of 197/5, Gill came out and put on a six-hitting show to hammer 104 not out off 52 balls to power Titans to a six-wicket win and extinguish RCB’s chances of a play-off berth.

Kohli has been the most consistent batter of the tournament, leading the scoring chart with 316 runs (avg 105.33, S/R 146.30). Playing with intent, he is getting the runs but is not a power-hitter and needs support from the big-hitters in the line-up. In the absence of lower-order hitting, RCB hasn't been able to get value for Kohli’s prolific run-scoring.

Another aspect highlighted the contrast between the innings of RCB and Royals. The starts were similar in the powerplay overs, but Royals had the ability to step it up as the innings progressed. At the 10-over mark, RCB were 88/0 and Royals 95/1. At the 15-over mark, RCB had reached 129/2 while the home side had raced to 152/2.

Former India batter Virender Sehwag said Kohli lacked support while he also pointed out that he wasn’t able to accelerate.

“I felt RCB scored about 20 runs less. About Virat Kohli, his knock was great, but there was nobody to support him. Dinesh Karthik did not come (out to bat ahead of Cameron Green), so there were no big hitters to accompany him and those who came did not work. Yes, Kohli's strike rate should have definitely increased because when you score 50 in 39 balls, then you tend to score at a quicker rate thereafter. The strike rate automatically then almost touches 200. He made a mistake there for sure," Sehwag said in his show on Cricbuzz.

RCB skipper Faf du Plessis conceded as much in a chat on official broadcaster, Star Sports. I did feel we could have maximised 10 or 15 more towards the end,” he said.

MIDDLE MUDDLE

The reason for RCB’s struggle has been the below-par show of their middle-order batters. The explosive Glenn Maxwell and Green have failed to fire so far and the classy Rajat Patidar has also not come to the party.

In five games, Maxwell has made 32 runs with a highest score of 28, at a strike rate of 106.66; Green has made 68 runs (S/R 107.93) and Patidar 50 in four innings (S/R 108.69).

RCB coach Andy Flower blamed their poor run on batting. "We're one from five and that's not a position any side wants to be in. Yes, we do have some issues with our batting. We got Virat in superb form but other guys are struggling for form and confidence. We're trying everything we can to make them feel strong.

“As you've seen in this competition, scores and aggression of teams are only going one way. So, the guys need all the form and confidence to put the opposition under pressure. We haven't found that form yet," said Flower.

BOWLING WOES

If the bowlers step up, a total of 183 can still be a winning score. Unfortunately for RCB, the bowling unit too hasn’t clicked. The leader of their attack, Mohammed Siraj, has been inconsistent. He has four wickets in five games at an economy rate of 10.10

Their other main pacer, Yash Dayal, has five wickets in five games at an economy of 8.31 while Green has also been expensive (ER 9.40). Main spinner Mayank Dagar is being easily taken down by batters (ER 10.14).

Will RCB end their IPL title drought this time is a question that accompanies the start of every edition. Can they change the familiar narrative this time?

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