Can Royal Challengers Bangalore win all their remaining matches to reach the play-offs?
Royal Challengers Bangalore are an unparalleled side when it come to unpredictability. They ended as runners up in the 2016 edition of the IPL, with skipper Virat Kohli leading the charge. Next year, Kohli missed out a number of matches due to injury and the entire time fell like a pack of cards, ending with a wooden spoon to take back home.
Even after overhauling their side this year in the auctions, apart from their star players Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, the team expected to turn around its fortunes.
However, even now, with the league stage reaching its conclusion, RCB are struggling to settle down. As a result, they are making a couple or more changes in every match. This has put them in such a spot that they now need to win both of their upcoming matches to even stand a chance of making it to the Playoffs.
The Indian Captain Virat Kohli who is famous all over the world for his antics is in charge of the RCB franchise. There is one thing about Kohli that nobody can doubt and it’s that he gives his 100% to the side.Adjectives and superlatives fall short of describing our skipper's impact both with the bat as well as his astute leadership.
Each time he steps on the field, the 29-year-old has a spring in his step and wants to give his all for the team’s cause. However, sometimes that is not all that your team needs. There are a lot of tactical decisions involved as well and Kohli has not been at his best as far as the team selection is concerned.
Despite going for plenty in the death overs and having one of the best T20 bowlers– Tim Southee – in the side, Kohli did not give Southee a game for too long. It was only when the team’s ouster from the league seemed probable, did he budge. From the moment that Southee has been included in the side, he has made a difference to the RCB’s bowling line up.
The other problem was Kohli’s persistence with Corey Anderson. Anderson was not even in the original squad and was picked as a replacement for Nathan Coulter-Nile. Kohli kept playing Anderson and giving him the ball in the death overs. As it turned out, the Kiwi kept getting dispatched for runs and failed to leave any impact with the bat as well.
When it comes t RCB’s batting, the formula is simple- If AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli perform, RCB win. The two of them are arguably the best limited overs batsmen in world cricket and are almost impossible to stop once they get going.
Kohli has always been consistent and IPL 2018 has been no different. Even this year Kohli has scored heaps of runs as always. With 514 runs in 12 matches, Kohli has scored at an average of over 55.
However, he has failed to get any support from his fellow RCB batsmen. Of all people, it is AB de Villiers who comes straight to mind. Although, it has been a decent year for ABD overall with a couple of match winning performances, he has not been at his consistent best.
The only other batsmen who has been able to contribute to the team’s success in Mandeep Singh. Originally a top order batsmen, Mandeep was asked to play the role of the finisher for the franchise this year and the Punjab lad has not disappointed.
Bowling has historically been RCB’s weaker suite and this year’s IPL is no different. In the initial part of the tournament, RCB’s bowling did not fare well while their batting was doing alright. However, as the season progressed, the bowling went uphill but unfortunately, their batting came downhill.
Umesh Yadav has been good with the ball this year for RCB. Coming in from KKR, Umesh has clinched 17 wickets in 12 matches and is in contention for the Purple Cap. Apart from him, Yuzvendra Chahal has bowled well but in patches. Yuzi has been one of the best bowlers for the franchise over the years, but he did not hit his straps this year. Chahal has started to pick up a little but it may already be too late.
Mohammed Siraj has improved as the league has progressed but lacks consistency. He may perform well in one game but has not been able to repeat his performances frequently.
The only saving grace has been Tim Southee who has made the blowing unit look a lot better since his inclusion.
Chris Woakes was tried by RCB for the initial matches but the English all-rounder did not live up to the expectations. As a result, he was dropped in the later part of the tournament but he can consider himself a little hard done.
Corey Anderson has been ordinary, to say the least. He has not been able to contribute to the team’s cause, either with the bat or the ball.
Colin de Grandhomme got a nod very late in the tournament and has done enough to retain his place in the playing XI since. However, Virat has underbowled him as the Kiwi is a good enough bowler to give you 2 to 3 overs per match.
Indian spinning all-rounder Pawan Negi was also given a chance in a couple of matches but he could not do much. He was very expensive with the ball and kept getting out early with the bat in hand.
Even if RCB win all their upcoming matches, their ride to the Playoffs seems very bumpy. The most they can get to is 14 points and the rest would depend on the performance of others teams. This puts them in the same boat as Mumbai Indians who too are in a similar condition.
However, after their 10-wicket win against Kings XI Punjab at Indore, their Net Run Rate got a huge boost. It they keep putting up stellar performances in their coming two matches, you never know, RCB may very well sneak their way into the Playoffs.
© Cricket World 2018