When Brendon McCullum lit up the Indian Premier League with his jaw-dropping innings of 158 in Bangalore, it marked a legacy which has been carried on for the next eight seasons of the 20-over Indian domestic extravaganza. The knock was followed by Chris Gayle’s blistering 165 runs at the same venue, which broke the Kiwi batsman’s record of the highest individual score in the IPL.
The pitch at Bangalore gained a reputation of being a batsman’s paradise and a nightmare for bowlers. While scores of 190 seemed to be a winning total at most other grounds, the deck at M. Chinnaswamy made a mockery of such targets.
However, IPL 2017, the tenth edition of the league has witnessed a different story altogether in terms of the behaviour pertaining to the wicket in Bangalore. Quite evidently, it’s not the same as what it used to be, and while bowlers have found breathing space, batsmen are having to grind hard for every single run.
Bangalore has been the home venue of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team and the core of their team is based on their star-studded batting line-up. Quite justifiably, the squad is formulated to suit the nature of the wickets. Nevertheless, the season hasn’t been easy for the Challengers this time round due to the indifferent character of the deck.
Breather for the bowlers
The transformation was evident from the first game of the season at the venue, when barring Kedar Jadhav and Rishabh Pant, no batsman was able to get to terms with the slow and low character of the wicket. The likes of Pawan Negi, Yuzvendra Chahal and Shahbaaz Nadeem made it tough for the batsmen with some assistance from the track.
The Challengers hustled to a win in the final over, but went on to lose the next couple of games courtesy of not being able to adjust to the pitch of the M. Chinnaswamy. Spinners generally go for plenty at Bangalore, but in this edition of the IPL, they undoubtedly have got a hold on the batsman.
With shorter boundaries and the higher altitude of the ground, spinners hardly flight the ball for the fear of being smacked. Praise must be reserved for Chahal for being the highest wicket-taker in the IPL at Bangalore, but he had to go through severe pounding to achieve the heights.
A roller coaster ride for batsmen
Moving ahead, let’s throw some light on the RCB batsmen and their performance at this venue over the course of the first three games. Things have gone awry for the Red Army as they have gone changed their opening batsmen plenty of times. With their batsmen faltering, the Challengers have hardly got off to fliers.
The big hitting characteristics of their batsmen were also neutralised due to the wicket. Chris Gayle has hardly looked his usual self after not only failing to score big, but also taking up deliveries to get the runs which hasn’t helped the team’s cause. Shane Watson also struggled to hit his straps with the bat.
In their encounter versus the Rising Pune Supergiant, there was a phase where of around 11 overs when the Bangalore batsmen couldn’t find the boundary even once. On a difficult wicket to bat, the Bangalore batsmen looked out of sorts and perished after promising to carry RCB over the winning line.
The requisite for RCB
Going by the opening three games at Bangalore, a conclusion can be drawn that the pitch has very little to offer for the fast bowlers. Here’s where the Challengers hit the right strategy on this turf by playing four spinners with an odd pacer to support.
Samuel Badree is in prime form with batsmen finding it difficult to gauge his guile and trajectory. Iqbal Abdulla, Chahal and Pawan Negi can be additional spinners in the line-up who can take advantage of the newly crafted deck at Bangalore.
Jaydev Unadkat, after yesterday’s show, deserves further opportunities to showcase his repertoire with the ball in hand. It’s vital for the Challengers that Shane Watson hits top gear both with the bat and ball as even at the twilight of his career, he hasn’t run out of steam.
Furthermore, Stuart Binny’s role in the team is baffling to understand for the time being. On very few occasions has the Indian all-rounder rolled his arms over for more than one over. Also, he comes in to bat very low and till the time he makes his way to bat, the result of the match is more or less known.
While the pitch hasn’t remained a belter, chinks can also be identified in the batting resources of the Challengers. Languishing at the bottom of the table, Virat Kohli’s men is in requisite of pulling up their socks for a turnaround. Albeit, not impossible, RCB have always had the players in the armoury to pin oppositions with disdain.