Embattled RCB look to salvage pride against Mumbai

Embattled RCB look to salvage pride against Mumbai

Going by the form book, it is a battle between two unequal forces here at the Wankhede on Monday afternoon. On one side of the ring are Mumbai Indians, in race with Kolkata Knight Riders to finish on top of the league. And on the other side are Royal Challengers Bangalore, desperate to avoid the wooden spoon.

For a team that rode to the final last year mainly on the batting exploits of their star batsmen, it must be disheartening for RCB to see the very department crumble in such a stunning manner. Even as their bowling, their weak link for the last couple of seasons, made some improvement, the batting plumbed the depths with each match. While the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle had made getting individual hundreds in T20s a child’s play in the past, even the collective might of the team isn’t helping them to three figure scores this time around. They crashed to 49 all out, the lowest total in the history of IPL, against Kolkata and ended with another sub-100 score (96/9) against Pune Supergiant. The 61-run defeat to Pune on Saturday also effectively ended their play-off hopes in IPL-10.

There are mathematical chances of RCB sneaking into the last four but that’s clutching at the straws. Both skipper Kohli and coach Daniel Vettori have reconciled to the fact that they are out of contention for this edition and all they are left to do is salvage some pride. On more than on occasion, Kohli has blamed his team’s batting debacles on lack of intent and fear of failure. Quite ironic that for a team whose catch phrase is “Play Bold.”

“You try and do a lot of things in the background,” said Vettori about his task in such circumstances. “This has been our experience of last two years where we started off poorly, but we were able to rectify it. Unfortunately, we have not been able to do it this time. It is about building confidence within the group because you can see that at the moment it is hard for the guys to take control of their games.

We haven’t had that belief to allow us build the confidence which has been the trickiest thing so far,” he reasoned, summing up RCB’s batting woes.

On the other hand, there is Mumbai for whom nothing seems to be going wrong, best exemplified in their Super Over win over Gujarat Lions on Saturday. Despite bowling a no-ball and a wide, Jasprit Bumrah managed to defend 11 runs against Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch. With 14 points, Mumbai’s one foot is already in the play-offs and their confidence is sky-high. Certainly, they will be favourites in Monday’s clash.

Unlike RCB, Mumbai have been able to unearth heroes every time they have found themselves under the pump. While opener Nitish Rana has been the find of the season for them, the likes of Pathiv Patel, Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard and Pandya brothers – Hardik and Krunal – have put their hand up on various occasions and taken the team across the line. This despite skipper Rohit Sharma firing only sporadically. Bowling too has been effective without being extraordinary, helping Mumbai’s climb up the ladder.

A Mumbai-Bangalore clash has always been a top drawer given the star quotient on either side but looking at the contrasting fortunes of the teams so far, the interest isn’t the same. Can RCB raise the bar and spring a surprise then?

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