IPL 2022: RCB in desperate need of runs from top-order

Unless the top-order lives up to its reputation, RCB remain vulnerable in quest of their maiden title



Virat Kohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore walks back to the pavilion after getting out during the match against the Mumbai Indians. (BCCI)
Virat Kohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore walks back to the pavilion after getting out during the match against the Mumbai Indians. (BCCI)

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Sat 16 Apr 2022, 12:02 AM

The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s sequence of wins was rudely interrupted by Chennai Super Kings in their previous match. After three victories on the trot, RCB were expected to get the better of CSK, wallowing in mediocrity, in the South Indian Derby, but got a thrashing instead.

The margin of defeat, 23 runs, might seem small, but there was hardly a moment when CSK looked in danger of losing after posting a monumental 216 batting first. That RCB could reach 193 was only thanks to another perky knock by irrepressible Dinesh Karthik, enjoying one of his best seasons, and upcoming youngster Shahbaz Ahmad.

RCB’s defeat was primarily because of a ragged performance in the field. CSK had started poorly, losing Ruturaj Gaikwad and Moeen Ali by the seventh over with only 36 on the board, but the fielding side couldn’t press home the advantage. The bowlers lost focus and control, lapsing repeatedly into errors in line and length and were heavily punished by veteran Robin Uthappa, who was in his elements, displaying the vast array of strokes that once made him one of India’s best T20 batters.

Uthappa’s comrade in the plunder was brawny all-rounder Shivam Dube, who has been around for quite a few IPL seasons representing various teams and seems to have finally found the right environment to showcase his big-hitting skills.

These two put on 167 for the third wicket in just 12.2 overs of frenetic hitting which left RCB battered, bruised and virtually beaten by the time the match reached the halfway stage.

None of the bowlers made an impact as Uthappa and Dube peppered the stadium with 17 sixes. These two punished pacers and spinners alike, including Josh Hazlewood, known for his strict control and parsimony. RCB badly missed their main bowler Harshal Patel who missed the match because of a family bereavement.

RCB’s big guns in the top order, Faf du Plessis (8) and Virat Kohli (1), failed to fire and Glenn Maxwell flattered to deceive with a cameo (26).

In the end, CSK’s total was too big for RCB despite Karthik’s 14-ball 34.

Against Delhi Capitals on Saturday, the Bangalore team will need their big names, plus Wanindu Hasaranga, to fire. DC were a little up and down in the first 8-10 days, but have since gathered steam and looking like the sizzling side which was so entertaining and threatening in the past two seasons.

Prithvi Shaw striking top form has helped DC move into a higher gear. Shaw, brilliant but mercurial, capable of throwing his wicket away when on top, has a couple of smashing half-centuries already. If he finds consistency, Shaw can be the most dangerous opener in the league.

Captain Rishabh Pant, Shaw’s mate from India under-19 days, looked in splendid touch in the last game and David Warner, Shaw’s opening partner, anchored the team to a win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the last match with a solid half-century.

This should be enough to set the alarm bells ringing in the RCB camp, but there is more. DC have strong finishers in Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur and Lalit Yadav.

While Anrich Nortje still has to find his groove, Mustafizur Rahman, Khaleel Ahmed make a potent pace trio with Thakur. There is also excellent spin resources in Kuldeep Yadav, Axar and Lalit.

Patel’s return will give RCB’s bowling the control and skills needed to take wickets without conceding too many runs. But unless the top-order lives up to its reputation, RCB remain vulnerable in quest of their maiden title.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator


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