Spongy middle-order, a worry

Spongy middle-order, a worry

The experience of skipper Daniel Vettori may have finally saved them a potentially embarrassing defeat, but that shouldn’t gloss over the fact that Saurabh Tiwary and Cheteshwar Pujara, bought by the Bangalore side after fierce bidding, have so far been disappointing, to put it mildly. The lack of batting opportunities may somewhat bail out Pujara, but Tiwary has had enough chances to prove his worth which the left-hander hasn’t been able to.

While Pujara has managed 34 runs in three innings, Tiwary has aggregated 81 in five innings at just over 20. In effect, the two have scored 115 runs between them from eight innings. This not to suggest that the two alone have been responsible for Bangalore’s earlier struggles, but their failure to complement the other batsmen’s efforts or to take control of things when the top-order hasn’t come off has greatly contributed to the team’s batting travails.  

Tuesday offered a perfect platform for the two youngsters to assert themselves, but they frittered it away when the team had pinned hopes on them to finish off a task well begun. The wicket had no devil in it and barring Morne Morkel, the attack was at best honest. More importantly, though, they had a solid base. It’s not often that a team scores at close to 12 an over for almost 10 overs and yet struggles to win chasing a target of 161.

Admittedly, there was some pressure when the two joined forces in the middle. From a comfortable 83 for one, they had slipped to 96 for four and with the entire stadium baying for their wickets, the situation wasn’t exactly undaunting. But then again, it wasn’t a task as difficult as Royal Challengers made it out to be.

Virat Kohli, who set the match up for the Challengers with a 38-ball 56, wasn’t off the mark when he said he didn’t expect them to be stretched after the kind of start they got. “The way we were going, I never expected that we at one stage would be needing 7-7.5 runs an over. But AB’s (de Villiers) dismissal and mine turned out to be the turning points. Had I and AB been there, we could have finished the game three overs earlier,” Kohli said later.

Though in their early 20s, both Tiwary and Pujara aren’t exactly new to the big stage. Besides the experience of having played in packed stadiums in previous IPL editions, they have also played the game at the highest level against top quality sides like Australia and South Africa and hence should in a better position to handle lesser pressure. Fortunately for the two young guns, RCB will be playing their next three matches at the Chinnaswamy stadium and the duo will hopefully make the most of home advantage if the opportunity comes their way.

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