IPL 2021: Opportunity for RCB to rediscover magic against DC

An in form AB de Villiers is crucial to RCB’s fortunes going ahead. —BCCI
An in form AB de Villiers is crucial to RCB’s fortunes going ahead. —BCCI

Mumbai - Victory over the top-placed team in the league is not insignificant going into the playoffs

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Thu 7 Oct 2021, 9:40 PM

With Chennai Super Kings flopping against Punjab Kings on Thursday, Royal Challengers Bangalore were left to rue their defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday. A splendid opportunity to improve their Net Run Rate was squandered by a very mediocre display by Virat Kohli and his team, and their hope of finishing in the top two on points was more or less quashed.

Mathematical possibilities exist, of course, since CSK and RCB (if they beat Delhi Capitals) will both finish on 18 points. But in real terms, the gap in the NRR with CSK is too far to bridge. Nevertheless, victory over the top-placed team in the league is not insignificant going into the playoffs.

Winning momentum would be extremely useful where confidence is concerned. RCB looked listless against SRH and must use the opportunity to rediscover chutzpah. Captain Virat Kohli, never short on energy himself, will have to reignite zest and purpose, rev things up to get his players perform at their best, inspire belief that DC can be beaten.

One way to do this is revive memories of the dramatic one-run victory they got over DC in the first phase of the tournament played in India. That humdinger had not only helped RCB finish in the top four when the tournament got suspended, but helped them remain in strong contention for a place in the playoffs despite some setbacks in the last fortnight.

The biggest blow to RCB came in their opening match in the second phase when they were bowled out for an abysmal 92 against KKR. That eroded their NRR considerably. Hard as they have tried, and despite a streak of wins, there has not been a boost in the NRR. Ground lost in the first match has not been recovered. Defeat against SRH the other night made it worse.

Can RCB beat table-toppers DC tonight?

Not improbable, but clearly, the batting has to be more productive. RCB’s totals in the second phase on UAE pitches have been modest. There have been some outstanding individual batting contributions, but no spectacular collective batting performance. This is because only or two from the top order have clicked in a match, and the finishing has been poor.

Glenn Maxwell has been the best performing batsman, Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal have contributed regularly, but RCB have never looked invulnerable in any match. It is only the superb bowling effort of Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal and, to an extent, Mohamed Siraj that has kept the team afloat in the top four, right through the second phase.

The bar for batsmen has to be raised, starting with the game against DC, if RCB are to make headway in the playoffs. Ironically, the biggest issue in the batting has been the run of low scores and tepid finishing by champion batsman AB de Villiers. He’s looked out of rhythm. The sizzling, exciting array of strokes which made him arguably the world’s best in this format have been missing.

An in form de Villiers is crucial to RCB’s fortunes going ahead. His vast experience, big match temperament and outstanding skills have often made the difference between victory and defeat for his team. In the first match of the season against DC played in India, de Villiers had smashed a fantastic 75 which won the day. RCB desperately want him back in that mode.

DC, sitting pretty at the top of the table, don’t have such hassles. They have batsmen and bowlers in form, and their ambition to win the title this year is palpable. Stopping them will take some doing.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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