RCB have their task cut out against in-form Sunrisers

RCB have their task cut out against in-form Sunrisers

Virat Kohli

Sizzling at almost 40 degrees Celsius, the mercury level in this southern metropolis is unforgivingly hot. The only other thing that is hotter than the City of Pearls is Sunrisers Hyderabad who sit atop the Indian Premier League table with seven wins.

Having dashed Delhi Daredevils’ slim hopes of making the play-offs with a last-over win here on Saturday night, Sunrisers take on their neighbours Royal Challengers Bangalore whose struggles are in stark contrast to the stupendous run the hosts are enjoying.

With a bowling unit to die for and a batting unit that’s been impressive without being extraordinary, Sunrisers seem to have found a perfect winning formula. Perhaps one of the least glamourous teams in the Indian Premier League given its composition of players, who prefer to be rather efficient than flamboyant, Sunrisers have been benefitted by the presence of Kane Williamson at the helm.

A last-minute replacement for the captain’s job in place of the suspended David Warner, Williamson’s calm influence on the team is evident. They have defended some modest totals with an attack -- which rather tempts the opposition to demise than blast it away -- and managed to chase down a stiff total against Delhi on Saturday, disproving the perception that Hyderabad’s batting was a bit suspect.

While leg-break bowler Rashid Khan has once again been the pick of their bowlers, the way they have managed to hold their own even in the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar reflects the depth and variety in their attack.

RCB, on the other hand, appear a confused lot with little direction. With just three wins from nine outings, their campaign has had a chequered run. They have followed up each of their first two wins with a couple of defeats, and after beating Mumbai at home last Tuesday, they picked up another defeat against Chennai Super Kings on Saturday and Virat Kohli’s men will be desperate to buck the trend here on Monday because a loss here will end even the faintest of their hopes of qualifying for the play-offs.

It’s not just one department that has plagued RCB this season; in different matches, different aspect of their game has let them down. In some of the earlier matches, bowling was in absolute shambles and in some other, fielding, especially catching, has been abysmal. Batting has blown hot and cold, ensuring that with every step forward they have taken two steps backward.

Against a bowling attack like that of Sunrisers, RCB need to start well which they have been missing in almost all matches. Brendon McCullum has been a big disappointment and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to replace him with all-rounder Moeen Ali with Kohli promoting himself to open and AB de Villiers coming in at No 3. Being two of the best batsmen in the team, not only do they need to give themselves more overs to bat but take control of things right at the start. This was the strategy they had adopted in 2016 when they had won five of their last six matches to qualify.

The bowling slowly but surely is shaping up well. They were excellent against Mumbai Indians whereas they made CSK work hard in a modest chase. Kohli also needs to crack the whip on erring fielders whose lapses have made a difference between winning and losing. For someone who sets high standards for himself on the field, such errors shouldn’t be acceptable.