Lacklustre RCB run into Pune

Lacklustre RCB run into Pune

Lacklustre RCB run into Pune

The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s fate is precariously hanging in balance, a situation they found themselves in the last season as well, but never at any stage did they appear as out of sorts as they do now.

After six defeats, one wash-out and two wins, they are placed seventh on five points with the worst net run rate in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League. With five matches to go in their league campaign, starting with the one against Rising Pune Supergiant here at the MCA Stadium on Saturday, the Challengers not only have to win all their matches but also have to enhance their run-rate by a considerable margin.

After achieving these twin objectives, they have to pray that the 15 points that they could accrue if they win all their remaining matches and their run-rate are good enough to take them to the play-offs.

The nine-year history of IPL is replete with instances of teams even with 14 points sneaking into the last four. The now-defunct Deccan Chargers went on to win the title having qualified for the semifinals with 14 points in 2009. Challengers themselves made the cut in 2010 with 14 points as did Chennai Super Kings the same year. Mumbai managed it in 2014 while Delhi Daredevils did so in the first edition with 15 points.

For such a providential escape, Challengers will have to hope that the two top teams at the moment, Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians, win majority of their remaining matches, leaving the other six teams in a scramble for the two remaining spots in the play-offs.

First and foremost, though, the Challengers will have to start winning matches before they can hope for such a scenario. Nothing seems to be working for the beleaguered Virat Kohli–led side which has been plagued by injuries and slump in their key batsmen’s form. Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers have fired only intermittently while Shane Watson has been benched after a series of flop shows. With injuries having sidelined KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan, the batting unit wears wafer-thin look with only Kedar Jadhav manging to make some impact.

Losing wickets in a clutch in the early stage of the game has been their biggest shortcoming this edition. As a result, they have failed to build any momentum in the power play period in virtually every match. In eight completed matches, Challengers have gathered a combined 320 runs in 48 overs of power play, a poor 6.66 runs per over. At same stage last year, they had hammered 446 at 8.2 runs per over and had won four matches. While they had lost just seven wickets during field restrictions the previous year after their first nine matches, this year 15 wickets have fallen which is why they have struggled to stack up runs like they did last year. Unless they find a way to stem this free fall, RCB can kiss a good bye to their play-off hopes.  
Supergiant are placed marginally better, having endured an up and down journey so far. Though they are in the top four with eight points after eight games, they have been inconsistent. One up against RCB after having thumped them at Chinnaswamy, the hosts will be looking for an encore.

 DH News Service