Time for RCB's Indian batsmen to fire against in-form Pune

Time for RCB's Indian batsmen to fire against in-form Pune

After two heavy defeats, Vettori's men have plenty of catching up to do as they take on Pune Warriors

Going by the strength of their respective squads, at least on the paper, Royal Challengers Bangalore were expected to run through the league stages without so much of a glitch while Pune Warriors were supposed to struggle to find their footing.

 

It is too early in the day to paint a picture, but Pune Warriors, whose last win came against defending champions Chennai Super Kings, are where you would have expected RCB to be at this juncture. The Sourav Ganguly-led Warriors are second on the table with three wins out of four matches, while RCB languish one spot above the bottom-placed Deccan Chargers. 

With momentum on their side, it’s tempting to annoint the Warriors as the favourites to better the battered Royal Challengers at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Tuesday but at the same time, it’s also true that the hosts are capable of doing much better than they have dished out so far.  

After getting off to a positive start against the Delhi Daredevils in their opener, RCB’s campaign has gone south and that is primarily due to lack of a quality fifth bowler. In the past couple of games, RCB’s middle-order too has been exposed. Daniel Vettori’s men will need to address these issues if they are to make a fist of any encounter. 

While the RCB skipper is almost resigned to the fact that the fifth bowler will continue to haunt them after crashing to big defeat against Royals, he was also concerned with the burden on his top four batsmen. Too much is expected from the likes of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli, and it has become imperative for these batsmen to perform if Challengers are to set up a big target or chase down even a competitive total.   

The brittle middle-order consisting of Saurabh Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara and Mohammad Kaif inspires little confidence, a fact not lost on Vettori. Coming under pressure early on in the innings after a top-order collapse, is no more an excuse, and they will need to put their hand up and make their stay at the crease count.

The bowling department, which at one point was heralded as RCB’s stronger point, has also taken a beating, and the inclusion of Sreenath Arvind did little to improve their cause. The left-arm seamer went for 48 runs from three overs against Royals, further compounding Bangalore’s problems. Admittedly, the 27-year-old was coming off a long-injury lay-off and there were still doubts about his match fitness but fielding the Karnataka paceman, a surprise success the previous season, showed the desperation of Challengers who are searching for that elusive fifth bowler.

The inclusion of Tillakaratne Dilshan, still to make his first appearance this season, may help the team find the sort of balance it’s hoping for. It would, however, be interesting to see where and how the Sri Lankan is incorporated into the squad though.

The Warriors, in comparison to RCB, have not shown any obvious chinks in their armour yet with most of their big guns coming to the party early. Jesse Ryder, Steven Smith and Marlon Samuels have carried the team from strength to strength under the able, wily leadership of Ganguly. Bangalore boys Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey too have done relatively well but would be looking to do better as come up against their former team-mates.
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