Bowling worries for RCB

Bowling worries for RCB

Beleaguered Challengers take on Pune today

Bowling worries for RCB

Just three games into this edition of the Indian Premier League, the Royal Challengers Bangalore would have perhaps realised that the battle lies within for them.

After a rousing start to the competition, two debilitating defeats have brought back the bitter memories of which the team is associated with. Their tendency to succumb under pressure, their overdependence on the top order and an under-cooked bowling attack have resurfaced to put them in a spot of bother.

Ahead of their clash against debutants Rising Pune Supergiants here at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Thursday, their ability to improve on their weak links will be crucial for RCB.

RCB’s depleted bowling took another hit after leg-spinner Samuel Badree, who was in prime form in the World T20, was ruled out of the tournament on Thursday. South Africa’s chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi has been picked as his replacement.  

RCB’s decision to shake up the combination in their previous encounter against Mumbai Indians was on expected lines and the daring decision to go with six different players proved to be effective to a certain extent. KL Rahul’s breezy start was a welcome change at the top of the order as RCB had the upper hand against Mumbai in the power play. Travis Head’s assault in the fag end of the innings rescued RCB from a struggling position and Iqbal Abdulla was the most successful bowler of the team.

These individual performances notwithstanding, RCB failed to lift themselves when it mattered and allowed Mumbai to call the shots. Rahul squandered a promising start to once again left the Bengaluru batting at the mercy of Kohli and de Villiers.

The back to back dismissals of the in-form duo after their speedy 59-run alliance saw RCB’s middle order struggle to sustain the momentum. Head and Sarfaraz did revive the innings in the final few overs with some lusty hits but the total proved to be insufficient.

The disadvantage of not having a strike bowler was felt in RCB’s struggle to trouble the Mumbai batsmen. Added into the team to bring a fine balance, all-rounder Stuart Binny was under-utilised as a bowler while Harshal Patel’s consistent failures haven’t helped the team. Pacer Varun Aaron, who came in for S Arvind, was taken to the cleaners and it remains to be seen if Kohli goes back to the left-arm seamer for this encounter.

As far as the scenario so far is concerned, very little separates the two teams. Both have lost two matches in three games to have two points and Pune edge RCB by one place on better net run-rate to lie fifth in the table. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team won the inaugural match of the edition against champions Mumbai Indians but they have not succeeded in replicating similar shows.

Pune’s batting, barring Faf du Plessis, hasn’t fired up to its potential and the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Ajinkya Rahane and Dhoni would look to find their touch sooner than later. The Ashwins -- Murugan and Ravichandran -- will be aiming to keep things tight in the bowling department.

Playing their first home game, the Supergiants will have lots at stake in this crucial encounter while RCB will be hoping to learn from their mistakes and get back to winnings ways.

 

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