A stop-start season for the Royal Challengers Bangalore has landed them in a three-way battle with Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad for the fourth and final play-off spot.
The top of the IPL table looks set. Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals have all but booked their place in the semi-finals of this season’s competition. The race for the fourth spot in the IPL points table is heating up. Three teams are neck and neck, vying for the final play-off spot. The Royal Challengers Bangalore is one of the teams in the hunt. It’s been a strange season for RCB; a confident start was followed by a slump in form which saw them go on a dismal run in the middle of the tournament.
In the first two games, they looked like the RCB of old, with controlled performances by all departments. They lost a nail-biter against Kolkata in their third game and then the slump began. This run of poor results saw them lose six of their next seven games. The lowest point for RCB this season was against Rajasthan, when they were skittled out for 70 runs. There’s no denying that RCB boasts one of the strongest squads on paper. The addition of Yuvraj Singh to the already existing pool of talent - Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers - further solidified a formidable batting line-up. Unfortunately, the big guns have failed to fire this season. RCB now face an uphill battle against teams in and around them in the points table.
Gayle and Kohli have been the major disappointments this season. The West Indian powerhouse, who has played some whirlwind innings for his team in the past has looked like a shadow of his former self. Niggling injuries have not helped his cause either. Spin has been his undoing, as he has found himself unable to put bat to ball on numerous occasions. He has looked edgy more often than not, and his scoring rate this season doesn’t reflect his ability to find the boundaries. Kohli has been a let down as well. Despite being a victim of poor umpiring decisions on a couple of occasions, Virat hasn’t shown the kind of form which won him the Player of the Tournament award at the 2014 ICC World T-20. His shot selection has been dubious on many occasions.
Yuvi is proving to be a late bloomer for his side. After an indifferent start to his RCB career, he has come up with crucial match winning efforts recently, and piled on 308 runs in 11 games. He has started to find gaps and boundaries at will; something which he was struggling to do in the initial stages of the tournament. The highest paid player at this season’s auction seems to be starting to live up to his billing.
The bowling unit has been under pressure, mainly because of the inability of the batsmen to play to their potential. Still, the likes of Mitchell Starc and Varun Aaron have done a fabulous job of keeping RCB in the hunt for long periods. Albie Morkel and Ashok Dinda have been fairly inconsistent.
The two undisputed stand out performers have been South African AB de Villiers and young Indian leggie Yuzvendra Chahal. ABD has shown his class on numerous occasions, coming up trumps for his side regularly. There has been nothing orthodox about de Villiers’ batting, and he has successfully experimented with a variety of strokes. He hasn’t been afraid to pull out all the stops, even against the world’s best - his demolition of fellow countryman Dale Steyn at the Chinnaswamy will be one to remember for ages! This season, his efforts have largely been in a losing cause, as the rest of the team has failed to perform. Chahal has been one of the finds of the tournament. Though he isn’t known for turning the ball too much, his economical bowling and ability to pick up wickets at crucial times has served his side well. Twelve wickets, at an economy rate of less than seven runs an over, have resulted in Chahal being one of the first names to go on the teamsheet for RCB this season.
The many individuals in the RCB side have failed to click together and that has been the drawback for the two-time finalists. They need their big players to be firing on all cylinders if they hope to clinch a top four finish. Back to back wins against Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings, have certainly provided them with momentum. While the win against Delhi emphasized their batting prowess, their victory over Chennai was largely due to some brilliant death-bowling by the pacers.
With RCB’s next two games being against Hyderabad and Kolkata, it will be all to play for in the race for the top four. The destiny of each team lies in the hands of its players. With KKR’s win over SRH on Sunday, Bangalore’s clash against Kolkata at The Eden Gardens on May 24th, might prove to be a winner-take-all encounter. In any case, this team of superstars will have to get their act together if they are to mount a serious challenge for the IPL title this season.Share this post