Royal Challengers Bangalore’s playoff hopes took another huge blow as they were solidly beaten by the Gujarat Lions at Bangalore. Being put in to bat first, RCB were off to a horrible start with their three batting pillars Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, and AB de Villiers flopping again.
However, Pawan Negi’s 32 and Kedar Jadhav’s 31, assisted by Aniket Choudhary’s 15 took them to 134 in their 20 overs.
In reply, RCB were off to a good start as they dismissed openers Ishan Kishan and Brendon McCullum early. However, Aaron Finch’s blistering knock of 72 from just 34 deliveries assisted by skipper Suresh Raina’s 34 from 30 deliveries took the Lions home within 13.5 overs.
The defeat for RCB meant that another defeat would knock them out of the tournament. Andrew Tye was adjudged the Man of the Match for his brilliant spell of 3/12.
Here are five things that went wrong for RCB during the match.
#5 Bowlers not cashing on the good start
Following a pretty lacklustre show from the batting department, Samuel Badree gave RCB a brilliant start to their target defence by taking the wickets of Ishan Kishan and the dangerous Brendon McCullum within the powerplay.
Badree, however, could not cash on his good start as Aaron Finch hit him for 15 runs in his third over and he wasn’t called up to bowl another over. The other bowlers bowled pretty sloppily and by the 10th over, it seemed that the loss of their openers did not affect the Gujarat Lions.
RCB’s bowling has been disappointing this season so far and if they are to stand a chance of reaching the play-offs then they will have to work a lot on their bowling department or else it will be IPL 2014 all over again for them.
#4 Middle-order exposed
After losing Gayle and Kohli early, RCB expected their middle-order to fire for them. However, Travis Head was bowled in the very next delivery after Chris Gayle’s departure. Kedar Jadhav began well and hit a couple of early boundaries but he could not capitalise on his good start as he made a poor decision by going for a late cut on a straight ball from Ravindra Jadeja which crashed into his middle and leg stump.
AB de Villiers did not look in good form and he was later run out in the 10th over. Pawan Negi showed some aggressive intent but could not carry the team much further when he needed to do it the most and was dismissed for 32 in the 14th over. Mandeep Singh had another rough night as he scored only 8.
Given the fact that RCB are struggling in their bowling, the middle-order batsmen will have to fire during the latter part of the innings if RCB are to reach to a competitive total.
#3 AB de Villiers’ persistent struggles with form
AB de Villiers missed the first few matches of the tournament due to injury but came back well in the third match by scoring a 46-ball 89 against Kings XI Punjab. However, since that knock, the South African seems to have lost his groove as he scored 19, 29, and 8 in the next three matches.
Against Gujarat Lions, de Villiers was visibly struggling against the bowlers and never looked to get going as the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Ankit Soni were able to contain him well. The South African skipper eventually perished for just 5 from 11 deliveries.
In the last four matches, de Villiers has managed to score only 61 runs at an average of 15.25 and a meagre strike rate of 89.71. Provided de Villiers’ form persists, then not only will he affect RCB’s chances at the IPL but will also affect South Africa’s chances at the Champions Trophy beginning in a month’s time.
#2 Virat Kohli’s barren spell
After leading India to a 2-1 win over Australia some time back, Kohli is failing to inspire RCB in this tournament so far as his players have not been coordinating very well which is well reflected in RCB’s results.
After coming back from a shoulder injury he sustained during the Australia series, Kohli began the IPL brilliantly by scoring a 47-ball 62 against the Mumbai Indians which was followed by scores of 28 and 64 against Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions respectively. However, he failed to score against the Kolkata Knight Riders in RCB’s lowest total of 49 which was followed by a 13-ball 10 against Gujarat Lions.
Every captain has to go through a rough spell and this is clearly one of those spells for Kohli. However, we have seen Kohli come back strongly and we can only expect him to do the same and end RCB’s poor form as after the IPL. He will be captaining India for the first time in a major ICC event at the Champions Trophy.
#1 Haven’t found the perfect combination
When you see RCB’s team and then see their position in the standings, the first words that will come to your lips will be “How the heck is this team not able to perform?” This reaction is quite justifiable given the fact that RCB have some of the sport’s finest batsmen in their squad in Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, and AB de Villiers in addition to the likes of Kedar Jadhav, Shane Watson, and Samuel Badree.
However, RCB have completely underperformed in the IPL so far and the biggest reason is that they don’t seem to be getting the right combination. RCB have consistently kept on changing their team, shuffling between Chris Gayle, Watson, or Travis Head.
With time running out, RCB need to find a good combination and stick to that combination for the remainder of the tournament. This might give them a glimmer of hope to reach the playoffs.