RCB bank on home conditions for revival

Kumbles men up against embattled Chargers

RCB bank on home conditions for revival

Royal Challengers paceman Dale Steyn during a practice session on Wednesday. DH photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

These two teams were the ultimate comers-from-behind in the second edition of the Indian Premier League. The seventh and eighth-place finishers of the inaugural edition turned their fortunes around in spectacular fashion in South Africa, the Chargers winning the title by edging the Challengers in the final.

Now, they have been asked to do the rearguard action once more but this time of varying intensity. The Bangalore side is fourth in the points table with 10 points after nine games, a seemingly great position to be in. But scratch the top and you get a much bleaker picture. They have lost three of their last four matches – twice against Delhi Daredevils and once against Chennai Super Kings, while the lone victory came against the embattled Kings XI Punjab.

That’s an unusual dilemma for a side led by victory-hungry Anil Kumble, but unfortunately, his side slipped at crucial moments in the last week. Now, they will have to regain their blazing form and consistency of the early stages, a task well within their capacity.

There was an anaemic look to the Bangalore attack against Daredevils in the absence of Dale Steyn. The South African should be brought back even if that means the sacrifice of one batsman, for the pacer has the ability to strike at vital stages.

Without Steyn in their ranks, Bangalore struggled to contain the marauding Paul Collingwood in the last match, and his bruising 46-ball 75 turned the tide decisively in favour of Delhi. Just like they missed Steyn’s pace, in batting as well they have failed to set the pace in the initial stages in the last few matches. The Bangalore frontline will have to look at that area at the earliest because they are up against a dangerous outfit.

It’s true that the Chargers have not clicked consistently so far even with players like Adam Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma in their ranks. But writing them off will be naïve as they still can produce the heavy knockout punch.
That they are still theoretically in the reach of a semifinal berth will give them the added spur to start the final round of league matches with a confidence-boosting win. But for that, they will have to rectify a major flaw.

They have shown an alarming propensity to throw away close matches in this edition, massively hampering their progress. The defending champions lost their tournament-opener to Kolkata Knight Riders by 11 runs and a few days back, they crashed to a disappointing two-run defeat against Rajasthan Royals. On both occasions, they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and different results on those days would have pushed them to safer shores.

Now Chargers, who have lost five in a row, will have to win all their remaining five matches to nurse the hope being in the top four, and such an effort needs the unique union of skill and luck.

On the other hand, Challengers have a relatively lesser demanding task of winning three of their remaining five ties to cement a place among the elite four, but simpler tasks have a tradition of luring teams into complacency and then to perdition and RCB need to be on their guard.

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