It was again a case of too near, but yet too far. RCB were in the game in the clash against Kolkata Knight Riders till the 17th over of the second innings in IPL 2019. But then another brute of a knock from all-rounder Andre Russell saw RCB lose the match by 5 wickets and five balls to spare.
RCB failed to defend 53 runs in last three overs as Russell chased down the target. Russell scored 47 runs off the last 53 runs in just 11 balls with 7 sixes and 1 four. It was brutal hitting something that Russell had done before in this IPL itself against the clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
RCB have now suffered five consecutive defeats this season and their campaign looks more or less over. So, what are the problem areas for RCB in IPL 2019 and how can they recover now from their disappointing season so far?
Poor death-overs bowling
RCB lost the clash against KKR and Rajasthan Royals for their failure to defend scores, even competitive ones. They had 66 runs to defend in the last 4 overs against KKR and they conceded the match with 5 balls to spare. In the clash against struggling Royals, they were let down by poor fielding in the death overs and lost a closely fought encounter.
RCB bowlers look clueless in the death overs. Tim Southee bowled length balls, bouncers, while Mohammed Siraj bowled beamers to the dangerous Russell who carted away the bowling to all corners.
They did not have cricketing sense to bowl yorkers in death overs. Just a few days earlier, K Rabada had bowled Russell with a yorker in the super over, and restricted KKR from chasing down the target with perfect toe crunchers.
But RCB neither learn from their own mistakes nor from other teams. Their bowling, although not strong, lacks guidance and a lot of blame has to shoulder by the team management too.
Too much dependence on Virat-ABD pair
If the two failed to fire, RCB would struggle. The two came good in the clash against KKR, and helped RCB post a competitive total of 205 on a flat deck. But the two alone can do much, while the rest of the batting line-up just struggle to cope with the demands of T20 cricket.
The opposition believes if they get Virat-ABD, the match is as good as theirs. And they are not wrong in thinking so. Parthiv Patel has done his bit, but RCB need other batsmen to fire as well.
Besides, RCB had chopped and changed their batting line-up frequently to get the balance right, but it has backfired as well.
Foreign import failing to perform
RCB have hoped big on West Indian youngster Shimron Hetmyer to shore up their middle-order. But Hetmyer has failed to live up to expectations. He has single-digit scores in all 4 innings he played. His failure has hurt the team’s chance.
Besides, other foreign imports have not delivered either. Moeen Ali, Colin de Grandhomme, Marcus Stoinis too have not delivered. A successful IPL team banks on the success of foreign cricketers. But RCB have not been lucky in that respect.
Virat Kohli has not been able to inspire his mates to play above their potential in the interest of the team. Kohli’s under-confidence as a captain for RCB has not helped his cause either. Kohli seems lost when the team is under pressure and his body language just gives it away that he has lost all hope.
His lack of control over the game puts his mates under pressure. They also lack self-belief that is prevailing across the squad. It cannot be wrong to say that RCB are on a losing momentum. Can Kohli turn it around by leading from the front like he did in the 2016 IPL?
When a team is under pressure, they fumble, drop catches and looks extremely vulnerable in the field. And RCB team is not different. They have dropped catches by dozens in crucial phases of the game that has shifted the control of the game in the opposition’s hands.
In the clash against KKR, RCB was guilty of dropping Chris Lynn twice. Lynn went on to build a platform for the big hitters to cash in.
Not only in KKR game, RCB have spilled catches in every match. And that’s unpardonable for a professional team. It seems a wave of under-confidence is running through the team and that’s showing in the poor fielding standards.
RCB need a mental conditioning coach to lift their moods currently and put up a better show in the remaining matches in IPL and give other favourites a tough chance to qualify for play-offs.