IPL 2021: RCB need to up their game against Hyderabad
Failure to win the title has increased the pressure on the RCB
A last-ball victory in the opening match against Mumbai Indians gave the Royal Challengers Bangalore campaign this season an early boost. Beating the defending champions was not just a matter of bagging points, but also a massive confidence builder.
The RCB have never won the IPL title, a cause for much astonishment and debate in cricket circles over the past decade at least. In most seasons, the franchise has boasted some of the most stellar names in the game, with Virat Kohli, arguably the best batsman in contemporary cricket, at the helm, but without reward.
Sometimes, having a galaxy of players actually becomes a burden. Remember, Rajasthan Royals were the least expensive franchise in the opening season of the IPL (2008), but they were brilliant on the field as Shane Warne led a young side to a memorable triumph.
Failure to win the title has increased the pressure on the RCB. Over the years, various players have been bought and off-loaded, the squad has been rejigged – Kohli and AB de Villiers the only constants – but success has been elusive.
Whether this season will be different remains to be seen. A good start is a big help, but the RCB will have to show sustained ambition and excellence over the next five weeks if they are to be in the playoffs to earn a shot at the title.
To do that, the RCB will have to do better than they did against the Mumbai Indians. It wouldn’t have been lost on the Sunrisers Hyderabad how the Bangalore team’s batting stuttered once Kohi was dismissed, which left De Villiers in sole charge to complete the win.
It was the genius of De Villiers that pulled off that exciting win against mounting odds, but the vulnerability in RCB’s batting stood exposed despite a useful contribution from Glenn Maxwell. The RCB actually had to thank Harshal Patel for his five-wicket haul which restricted the Mumbai Indians to 159.
The Sunrisers bowling attack had an off day in their first match against the Kolkata Knight Riders, but this is unlikely to be the case every time.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T Natarajan are usually very accurate and parsimonious. To score runs, batsmen have to take the attack to them, which enhances the risk quotient.
The bigger threat for RCB on the spin friendly Chepauk pitch, however, will be from Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi if he is retained. Rashid’s wicket-taking ability in this format remains marvelous, and he has the ability to turn a match on its head in an over or two.
RCB’s spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar looked somewhat undercooked in the opening match. In fact, Chahal bowled with such poor control that Kohli might be tempted to consign him to the nets for the next couple of games.
A wobbly and inexperienced middle order remains Hyderabad’s vulnerability. Against the Knight Riders, Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey and the young Abdul Samad did play well, but their efforts were not enough. Skipper David Warner’s contribution at the top will be the key to the team’s fortunes.
RCB vs SRH
6pm UAE Time
Players To Watch Out For:
SRH: Rashid Khan, T Natarajan, David Warner
RCB: AB de Villiers, Kyle Jamieson, Virat Kohli
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