Confident RCB eye revenge

Confident RCB eye revenge

Challengers will be keen to prove a point against Super Kings

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s victory over Rajasthan Royals on Monday was a perfect riposte for the non-believers.

BEST FOOT FORWARD: Chennai Super Kings fielding coach Steve Rixon discusses a point with players during a practice session   on Tuesday ahead of their IPL match against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Dh PHOTO/ KISHOR KUMAR BOLAR

It emphatically drove home certain points: 1. RCB are no longer a Chris Gayle-centric team. 2. Their bowlers can hold their own without being a limb-threatening bunch. 3. They have adequate quality in their reserve bench.

The Bangalore outfit might have been putting out all these facts through various players/coach from the beginning of IPL V, but they needed a clear proof to support their words, and the Jaipur game offered them just that. The RCB management might be quite happy that the team pieced together such a significant performance ahead of their clash against the Chennai Super Kings here on Wednesday.

Even their die-hard supporters wouldn’t have betted on RCB reaching 189 after being reduced to 75 for three after 12 overs at Jaipur, and they would have counted the early dismissal of Gayle as the sign of a gloomy night. But AB de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan powered them with immaculate shot-making, and the South African’s form must be worrying the Super Kings.

En route to his third fifty of the tournament, de Villiers not only underlined his form, but his maturity as a batsman. The right-hander played the anchor role in RCB’s opening match against Delhi Daredevils, helping his team to a competitive total, and against the Royals he was enforcer par excellence, tearing the bowlers apart at will. At this point, he has a strike-rate of 164.2 from seven games, a clear indication of de Villiers’ consistency, growing importance in the RCB set up and his impact in the outcomes. Now, please don’t start calling RCB an AB de Villiers-centric team!

RCB bowlers too had a few points to prove, and the fifth bowler issue had been the most prominent among them, a glaring defect that was highlighted when they lost three consecutive matches against Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai and the Royals. They were forced to use part-timers like Gayle and Virat Kohli in the games against Chennai and Rajasthan, and the results were least encouraging.

But the Royal Challengers found an answer for it in Jaipur, dishing out a steady bowling effort against an in-form batting unit like the Royals, and left-arm spinner KP Appanna was the pick, grabbing four wickets. His performance underlined the quality in the RCB stable, and add to it the good form of Zaheer Khan and Daniel Vettori, you’ll get the picture of a reliable bowling unit.

Still, there are a few missing links like the patchy form of R Vinay Kumar and Kohli, two players who came into IPL V with massive reputations after a string of fine efforts home and away last year. But both Vinay and Kohli have not exactly set the tournament ablaze thus far. While the Karnataka skipper would like to improve his unusual economy rate of 9.21 for six wickets, Kohli would certainly not be happy looking at his record so far – 129 runs from seven games at 18.42 with just one fifty.

These two are proud competitors, and there will not be a more ideal time for them to start a turnaround than the match against the Super Kings because meaningful contributions by Kohli and Vinay would be immensely precious for the Royal Challengers against a team who are increasingly beginning to resemble the defending champions after a lethargic start.

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