IPL 2023: Still some underlying chinks Bangalore needs to address

On Thursday, in Mohali, a Virat Kohli-captained RCB managed to carve out a 24-run over the host Punjab Kings

by

James Jose

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RCB's Mohammed Siraj bowls against Punjab Kings. — PTI
RCB's Mohammed Siraj bowls against Punjab Kings. — PTI

Published: Thu 20 Apr 2023, 11:27 PM

Last updated: Thu 20 Apr 2023, 11:30 PM

A common phrase that die-hard Royal Challengers Bangalore fans have been chanting in Kannada (the local language) over the years is: ‘Ee sala cup namde.’ Translated, it means ‘This year the cup is ours.’

Years have gone by with three near misses (runner-up finishes in 2009, 2011 and 2016). This season, there is renewed hope that it will be finally be the year. RCB have shown promise but it will have to come up with much more than what it is doing to be strong title contenders.

On Thursday, in Mohali, a Virat Kohli-captained RCB managed to carve out a 24-run win over the host Punjab Kings. The superstar opening combo of Faf du Plessis (84) and Kohli (59) had set things up before pacer Mohammed Siraj (4-21) came up with a masterclass.

Yet, there are some underlying chinks which the Bangalore team needs to address if it is to reach the finish line.

Here are a few points from the match.

Kohli’s approach

The star batter has been in imperious form with Thursday’s knock being his fourth fifty-plus score this season. And it augurs well for the franchise going forward but there is a question about how he paces his innings. Kohli had knocked 29 from 19 balls at the end of the powerplay but it took a dip after the field restrictions were lifted with the remaining 30 of the 59 coming from 28 deliveries. He had five boundaries and a lone six, and although he reached a milestone of 600 boundaries to be third on the list, perhaps he could have struck a few more lusty blows during the powerplay and after and carried on till the end.

Maximising the total

RCB was 91 for no loss at the end of 10 overs and that should have been the perfect platform to go all guns blazing in the next block of 10 overs and rack up a mammoth total. Du Plessis and Kohli were great up top but RCB had far less than it had hoped for when the first wicket fell for 137 in the 17th over. Quite clearly, its scoring in the middle segment is hurting it. A change in approach during that period could see RCB reach much higher totals.

Siraj revels in the role

Siraj seems to be enjoying the role of being the leader of the bowling attack. With Josh Hazlewood yet to feature, Wanindu Hasaranga having just linked up with the team and Harshal Patel being inconsistent, the responsibility of leading the line fell on Siraj. And the Hyderabadi has been a revelation for RCB so far. He has thrived with the new ball, finding the ideal length and control over his line and has also been potent at the death. No wonder he is the current Purple Cap holder with 12 scalps from six matches.

Punjab misses Raza

Logic would be to stick with the man who won you a game. But Punjab Kings thought otherwise. Zimbabwean all-rounder Sikandar Raza had laid the building blocks for the team’s victory over the Lucknow Super Giants in their previous game. But he was shockingly left out for Liam Livingstone, who was playing his first game. Perhaps, Raza could have played instead of Matthew Short. Having Raza and Livingstone could have added a bit more heft to the batting.

Batting approach

With the sun beating down, it was a good surface at Mohali and a target of 175 was gettable for Punjab Kings. But it lacked a plan and chose to attack rather than pace the chase, and it paid the price for it. Such a chase dictated understating and reading the situation but except for Prabhsimran Singh (46 off 30) and Jitesh Sharma (41 off 27), the others got burned.

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