Rajasthan need to rethink their batting as the top order has failed to fire while Kohli and boys need to step it up in the middle overs.
In the Indian Premier League (IPL) a superior record, especially in head-to-head games, doesn’t count for much. And, it is unlikely to offer comfort to the Rajasthan Royals (RCB)—10 wins and 9 losses in 21 games as two remained undecided—when they take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Dubai in the first of the two games on October 17. In their last five meetings, RCB’s only win has come in their previous game this season and it will weigh heavily on Royals as the points table has changed dramatically ever since.
RR needs to be aatmanirbhar at the top
A franchise that is known to back Indian players, and especially young talents, has been surprisingly stubborn about its top order consisting mostly of overseas professionals. Steve Smith is not a regular opener and filled in for Jos Buttler, who missed the first couple of matches, at Sharjah’s batting-friendly tracks to score quick-fire 69 (47) and 50 (27) in the first two games but has since managed only single-digit scores in five innings.
It looks all the more jarring when an experienced India opener Robin Uthappa is forced to play in the middle order without much success. Buttler averages less than 19 in five innings if you leave aside his knock of 70. Smith has even promoted Ben Stokes as an opener in the last two matches despite the England player’s great reputation as a middle-over finisher.
Sending in all seasoned overseas players at the top of the order is putting young Indian batsmen under tremendous pressure. RCB exploited this heavy reliance by cleaning up Smith and Buttler when they last met. Perhaps it is time to review the strategy—RR has lost 16 wickets, more than any other team, during the powerplay this season.
“We’ve been in this situation before and have come back from this, so we’re not panicking about this,” star player Jofra Archer said in a press release issued by the Rajasthan Royals.
A chance to join DC, MI at top
“We had enough. Maybe we leaked few boundaries, maybe our game-plan was slightly wrong but for us to get the end like that, to get it to the last over to the last ball quite proud of the boys for sticking there when the game was completely gone by the time second-last over was bowled,” said RCB all-rounder Chris Morris in the post-match press conference after the game against Kings XI Punjab.
Despite the horror of the game they had, RCB start as favourites in the contest. They have 10 points and another win will see them crowd the top of the table along with Delhi and Mumbai. One major concern Virat Kohli would like to address is RCB’s run-rate in overs 7-15, which is the poorest of the season. It will have to start with him, as the captain is guilty of going slow. In the games against the Kolkata Knight Riders and KXIP, Kohli faced 44 balls without hitting a boundary.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch, AB de Villiers (wicket-keeper), Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Washington Sundar, Isuru Udana, Navdeep Saini, Shahbaz Ahmed and Yuzvendra Chahal.Rajasthan Royals: Steven Smith (captain), Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat and Kartik Tyagi.