Royal Challengers Bangalore finds itself in a precarious position at the moment. Ten days ago, the Virat Kohli-led team was in red-hot form, topping the table and looking seemingly unbeatable in the Indian Premier League. Four games and three defeats later, the team is struggling to remain in the top four. Ahead of its match against Delhi Daredevils (DD), RCB’s hope of qualifying is hanging by a thin thread.
RCB will be concerned that its victories this season have all come at home. In away matches the team has faltered, except against the bottom-placed Pune Warriors India. For all the talk of fire-power in its ranks, the team’s performances are revealing.
Chris Gayle, true to his reputation, remains the go-to man. Every time he has scored big — 50 or above — his team has won. When he doesn’t fire, the team doesn’t too.
Kohli has failed with the bat and leadership. His last decent contribution with the bat came, ironically, during the home game against DD. Instead, he has made news for all the wrong reasons, his attitude, run-ins with opponents and his criticism of fans.
The RCB bowling, too, has been ordinary. Only Ravi Rampaul and R. Vinay Kumar have commanded respect. Muttiah Muralitharan has hardly played; Jaydev Unadkat and the rest have made little impact.
The only good thing for RCB ahead of this match is that the opposition is in even greater disarray. DD was hit hard by the loss of Kevin Pietersen and Jesse Ryder before the tournament began, and Virender Sehwag missing the first three games did not help. Captain Mahela Jayawardena has also struggled, leaving David Warner to play a lone hand at the top.
Irfan Pathan has earned national recall, as an all-rounder, for taking seven wickets in 11 games and scoring 90 runs. It’s a sad reflection that these figures make him the team’s best bet.
Umesh Yadav, with 13 wickets, has been the only shining spot for DD, which will be under pressure at home. The humiliation in the last match against Rajasthan Royals showed the team in poor light.
Only a win would help RCB stay in the race for a place in the top four. While avenging its Super Over away defeat, DD can spoil RCB’s campaign.