First hour into their opening game, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s hopes of a perfect start to the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League had vanished.
With the cream of their batting back in the hut, Virat Kohli’s men were out of the contest in no time. While a disciplined Chennai Super Kings hardly gave any leeway to the batsmen RCB's batting failed to show the desired cricketing acumen and imploded to their joint second lowest total of 70.
RCB’s five-bowler strategy didn’t focus on spin. Yuzvendra Chahal and Moeen Ali were the front line options while they opted for a three-pronged pace attack of Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav.
“We were surprised by how much it spun,” admitted Vikram Solanki, RCB’s batting consultant at the post-match press conference. “We were surprised by the lack of pace as well. The pace was inconsistent and that made it difficult for us to adjust. Honestly, we want an even contest of bat and ball but in this game, it was really difficult to score. Even when we picked the team, we didn’t think it would spin this much and went with two spinners,” Solanki explained.
Even if RCB had the luxury of a spin-heavy attack, it would have been an arduous task to defend 70 runs. Opener Parthiv Patel (29) cut a lonely figure as wickets fell like a pack of cards at the other end. One healthy partnership would have given RCB a total to fight for but their batsmen’s slapdash effort made the job simpler for CSK.
The slow nature of the surface was bothering Kohli. Just one boundary, that too off a misfield, was mounting pressure. In a bid to break the shackles, Kohli hit a short one straight to deep midwicket in the fourth over. The over-dependence on their captain stood exposed when RCB lost the next four wickets in the next six overs. Moeen Ali’s tame dismissal was a sign of things to come.
The reliable AB de Villiers squandered a golden chance. Imran Tahir had dropped a sitter at fine leg but de Villiers went for the sweep shot again in the very next ball with no control and luck wasn’t going to favour him again. Shimron Hetmyer added to the chaos by running himself out in silly fashion.
“A total of 120 would have been decent. Ironically, in the end we felt even 100 might have been competitive. We should have dug in and survived. Even if it looked ugly in the middle, we should have hung in there. It was the first game of the tournament and we should have looked for partnerships,” Solanki felt.
A crushing defeat in the opener can either dent a team’s confidence or push them to comeback stronger. Solanki said RCB would move on from the drubbing. "It isn’t an ideal start. Our effort is to mind the work we do than concentrate too much on the results. The senior players will have a talk on where we could have done better in this game,” he said.