RCB rout shows that even world-class batting can't compensate for mediocre bowling
No matter how good your batting line up is. No matter if you have two of the world's greatest limited-overs batsmen in Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. No matter if you bat brilliantly. No matter if you post more than 200 runs on the board. No matter if you have momentum. But, if don't have the bowlers to do the job, you will pay for it more often than not.
Against Kolkata Knight Riders, RCB could have scored 300 and probably they would have still lost the match. Or like Virat Kohli said in the post-match presentation himself, if you can't defend 75 in the last four overs, then probably you can't defend 100 either.
Teams with rich death over resources
You look at all IPL teams who have attained some level of success over the years and you will find that they have had at least two good death bowlers. Sunrisers Hyderabad, for example, have Siddharth Kaul and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who have a variety of slower ones and knuckleballs up their sleeve. Even Rashid Khan bowls well at the death for them at times.
Mumbai Indians probably have the best bowling attack in the league, credit to Jasprit Bumrah, who according to many experts, is the best death bowler in the world currently. Lasith Malinga, though not at the the height of his powers, still remains a force to reckon with in the slog overs. Even Krunal Pandya bowls hard lengths and is difficult to hit in the final few overs. For KKR, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna and Sunil Narine do a fine job at the death.
There is a certain pattern developing in the shortest fomat of the game, where on one hand, mammoth totals are being changed, while on the other, a few teams are defending below par totals consistently. This goes to show that runs on the board are fine but you ought to have the bowlers to deliver the goods, especially in the death overs.
In the 2018 IPL, Sunrisers successfully defended scores of as low as 132, 118 (dismissing Mumbai Indians for 87) and 151. In the process, they also disrupted the notion of a 'par score'. SRH conceded less than 150 runs in IPL 2018 seven times, the most by any team; the second best being Chennai Super Kings.
Since the 2016 World T20, Pakistan have been the master of defending small totals. The team has won 29 of their last 33 T20Is, batting first in 22 of those. They have batted first nine out of ten times after winning the toss in 2018 due to their bowling potentcy. In the same span, they have won an astounding 17 out of 18 games batting first when scoring 147 or more.
Not learning from past mistakes
RCB did not have great death bowlers in the last season as well. Tim Southee's credentials as a death bowler have been questionable. His partner in crime for the New Zealand team, Trent Boult is an accomplished T20 bowler and has a lot of variety, along with added pace. When you have pace, the slower one also becomes effective but Southee has dropped considerable yards over the years. Also, in the slog overs, the couple of variations he has is the cutter and the yorker, which does not fall accurately on a regular basis. Hence, in the last season and in this season as well, there has been a clear lack of trust shown by captain Virat Kohli to hand him the ball.
Despite not making it to the playoffs the last time around, RCB did not learn from their mistakes. Having made no corrections, the writing was already on the wall. The team traded Marcus Stoinis from KXIP with the hope of him bowling at the death. But, despite some good returns at the international level, Stoinis is not an out and out death bowler and is still learning the tricks of the trade. He is also bereft of variety and banks on cutters and slower ones. The pace with which he bowls is not good enough to trouble quality big-hitters.
Royal revamp awaits
By taking one hard look at the RCB squad, you can make out that there are several things which have not been taken care despite the teams failure in the last two years. Hence, it always was only a matter of time that the strings began to come apart. That it has been six out of six losses is a bit harsh on them, but so is life.
It is quite obvious now that Bangalore will make stock changes for the next season. With this season as good as over for the franchise, they are also likely to try some of the young talent in the remaining matches. Don't be surprised if Virat Kohli also takes rest to be fresh for the World Cup.
So, as the franchise looks to reset, here's a message for the RCB management- Let the ABDs and Kohlis wield their willow and keep coming up with the goods, but till you invest atleast half of what you have in roping in the likes of Shimron Hetmyer and Shivam Dube to find a couple of good death bowlers, 'ee sala cup namde' will probably remain a dream.
©Cricket World 2019