IPL 2022: RCB face stern test against Gujarat Titans

A couple of more defeats would bring RCB very close to elimination, writes Ayaz Memon

By Ayaz Memon

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Virat Kohli's abysmal form has been a major reason why RCB have looked so vulnerable. (BCCI)
Virat Kohli's abysmal form has been a major reason why RCB have looked so vulnerable. (BCCI)

Published: Sat 30 Apr 2022, 12:43 AM

The Royal Challengers Bangalore face perhaps their sternest test in the league stage against the frontrunners Gujarat Titans tonight. Until last week, the RCB were comfortably placed, having won five out of seven matches and favoured to reach the playoffs.

However, two massive defeats in succession have put them in a wobbly position on the points table.

With 10 points, RCB are placed fifth currently. Not a situation calling for panic, but certainly for a change in momentum.

Having already played nine matches, RCB have only five more games remaining, and a couple of more defeats would bring them very close to elimination.

In this context, tonight’s match against Gujarat, clearly the best performing side in IPL15, is gigantic hurdle for Faf du Plessis and his team to overcome. The Titans have made light of being a new franchise, losing only one match from eight.

In the IPL, this is an astonishingly high proportion of wins, and reiterates the belief among experts and aficionados alike that GT’s maiden season could finish in glory.

With every match, Titans have diminished the scepticism they faced at the start of the tournament. Every selection in the mega auction seems to have paid off, but more importantly, the players have jelled extremely well, showing great comprehensiveness and extremely sharp competitive urge, unwilling to surrender in any situation.

On Tuesday night against the resurgent Sunrisers Hyderabad, GT pulled off a stunning victory, Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan turning the impossible into possible with spectacular hitting.

This was not a one-off. The Titans had clinched two last-over humdingers earlier too, revealing the undying optimism and never-say-die spirit in the players.

GT’s list of players in form runs long: Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson, Yash Dayal and Alzarri Joseph.

It gives an idea of the hardship confronting RCB who have slumped rather badly in the last couple of matches.

Against SRH, they were bowled out for a pathetic 68. Against Rajasthan Royals the performance was no less dismal as they failed to overhaul a modest 144.

These are troubling signs for a team making a bid for a much-awaited maiden title.

Most attention on RCB’s up and down performances have centred around Virat Kohli’s travails. The former India and RCB captain has never fared worse in the IPL. Two golden ducks and two early run outs have kept his season’s aggregate so far to a mere 128 runs from 9 matches.

Moreover, these runs have been agonisingly earned as Kohli has struggled badly to put bat to ball.

Kohli’s abysmal form has been a major reason why RCB have looked so vulnerable. But going by the previous two matches, the situation’s been compounded by the failure of other frontline batsmen to get going. Du Plessis, Glenn Maxwell, Anuj Rawat, Shahbaz Ahmed and even Dinesh Karthik — who was riding the crest of a second wind — have flopped.

Their batsmen have failed to complement the bowling line up led wonderfully by Josh Hazlewood.

The odds are heavily stacked against RCB.

But a win would now arrest their decline and make the race for the playoffs more dramatic.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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