Desperate challengers look for elusive win

Many of us may have encountered the “is the glass half empty or half full” situation at some stage in our lives. The immensely underperforming Royal Challengers Bangalore team and the vast legion of their fans are now staring at such a situation for an umpteenth time so early in the league phase.

From being bamboozled on a rank turner in Chennai to suffering a bout of nerves at home in their second game, from being pulverised by the merciless duo of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner to inexplicable dropped catches against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday, the Royal Challengers have just not clicked as a unit so far. Add the internet memes mocking their performance and critics questioning Virat Kohli’s captaincy and decision-making, it’s all going “Wrogn” — pun intended — for the franchise.

Not the one to give up on a fight, Kohli has presented a bold face in post-match presentations saying all is not lost and the team needs just one good performance to arrest the slide and turn things around but followers of the team know the familiar battle for the wooden spoon is already underway. So is there a cause for optimism or should one feel pessimistic about the team as history suggests? Answers will be known by Sunday as RCB play two back to back games at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

First up for them on Friday is two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders, who will be desperate to make amends for the Super Over defeat against Delhi Capitals. The Royal Challengers, apart from bruised minds and bodies following four successive defeats, have multiple problems to address against the Knights who hold an impressive 14-9 win-loss head-to-head record.

Parthiv Patel, surprisingly, has been the most impressive batsman so far while Kohli and AB de Villiers — the two key men for Challengers — have shockingly struggled for consistency that has severely impacted the team’s fortunes. Shimron Hetmyer and Colin de Grandhomme have been utter flops and the latter was deservedly dropped in the previous game. It looks like Hetmyer, tipped to be one of the young faces to watch out for pre-season, may make way for dangerous South African wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen.

Pacers Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini have been leaking runs at the start and death which may force Kohli to summon the vastly experienced Tim Southee. That would mean laying the axe on Moeen Ali as de Villiers remains untouchable while the big-hitting Marcus Stoinis adds balance as an all-rounder. If Ali, who batted for a while in Thursday’s ‘nets’, is dropped, then either Washington Sundar or Pawan Negi may get a look-in.

RCB need to come out with strong plans for the marauding Andre Russell, who has been in scintillating form. Considering how benevolent RCB bowlers are, the muscled Jamaican may be planning another ‘hitting’ party.

While Russell has been KKR's hero in all three games, Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik have been effective too. Bowling has been a bit of concern for the Knights, an area which the embattled RCB would be looking to exploit.

RCB have not beaten KKR in their last four meetings and if they don't halt that streak, their play-off hopes will lie in tatters.

 

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Desperate challengers look for elusive win

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