My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Royal Challengers Bangalore

We are in the final week of the round robin stage of IPL2020 and the playoff spots are still up for grabs. Mumbai Indians with 16 points are almost in but again they would feel safe with another win under their belt. The fantastic thing about this season is that all the teams except for Chennai Super Kings have an outside chance of making the playoffs. Kings XI Punjab who looked like being down and out after first 7 games have made an incredible comeback winning 5 games on the bounce to become one of the top contenders for the playoff spot. Kolkata Knight Riders have had a mixed tournament. They surely haven’t been consistent but again they have done enough to keep themselves in the race.

Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals though have been hanging by a thread and possibly have an outside chance of making it if they win both their games and other results go their way. The two top teams of this years IPL Royal Challenges Bangalore and Delhi Capitals though have seen their season take turn for the worse in the latter part of the tournament. DC who have been brilliant in this years tournament have had very poor last few games. They have not only been losing but the losses have been heavy as well. Their 88 run loss to SRH has given the latter a lot of hope but has dented DC’s NRR pretty badly. RCB who have been very consistent in this years IPL have now lost two games in a row making their qualification path slightly more complicated.

This season has been extremely competitive and the most dangerous team in the coming days is going to be CSK. The men in yellow have nothing to lose and they would want to end the season on a high. The next few days is going to be crucial for all the sides in the competition. While the top 3 sides want to finally confirm their playoff spots, the rest of the 4 are battling to topple one of them into the playoffs as well.

DC and RCB have been brilliant this season but their recent reversal in results would have surely caused some jitters in their camp. Both these teams have been in these situations in the past an they surely would want to avoid that from happening again this season. RR and SRH who at max can reach 14 points would not only want to win their remaining games but would also want to improve their NRR as there is bound to be tie at number 4 in the table.

This years IPL in the UAE has been exciting and close and the final week is no different. With as many as 7 teams in the running for 4 spots, the tournament has been one of the best in history of IPL. All the teams would want to make one last push towards the playoff spots and it will be interesting to see who gets there.

Royal Challengers Bangalore were one of the most expensive teams in the IPL when the league was formed in 2008. The team has always been one of the most hyped teams in the league and always boasted of prime stars from around the world. Even though they have always been a strong side, title success has evaded RCB till now. The biggest problem for RCB over the years have been their lack of clarity in selection.

This season though starting with the auctions last year there seems to be clarity in thinking from the RCB management. Their squad as usual is brilliant this year as well but the major difference right selection of personnel according to what they were missing. For example over the last few seasons RCB were struggling with the opening combination and their selection of Devdutt Padikkal and Aaron Finch has plugged that gap. This also meant that Virat Kohli can play in his regular number 3 spot and does not have to open the innings. They also picked up the talented Adam Zampa as the spin bowling backup and all-rounder Chris Morris after a bidding war in the last years auction. Morris who has been in amazing form with the ball in the two games he has played so far has ended their pace bowling worries.

The most important thing this season has also been their consistency in selection of the XI. They did play around with few positions which lots of teams have to do in the initial part of the season but again they seem to have identified their core pretty soon this year. Their top order looks set and the bowling attack of Chris Morris, Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal are almost certain to carry on. This means that Virat Kohli can play around with the rest of the positions and move players in and out knowing very well that they have a settled core who are performing brilliantly so far.

Virat Kohli himself returning to form was the final piece in the puzzle. RCB always rely on Virat and AB De Villiers to provide them with consistent runs and the former’s lack of form at the start of the season was a worry for the management. Virat though the champion that he is has returned to his best over the last few games and is looking in great touch now and with ABD firing as well RCB seem to have peaked at the right time. The tournament is just at the half way stage and with 10 points in 7 games, it will be hard to bet against RCB reaching the playoffs. They have a fantastic group of players who are all performing together in unison and who knows this might finally be the year where they break their title drought.

Kings XI Punjab had a heartbreaking loss in their first game again Delhi Capitals. They were in control of the game for most of their bowling innings before Marcus Stoinis broke loose. While batting as well they started well but the middle order crumbled before Mayank Agarwal played a stellar knock to almost get them to a win.

KXIP went in to the first game without Chris Gayle. Gayle who calls himself the “Universe Boss” is obviously a legend in this format. An opener who could destroy any bowling attack on his day. The problem for KXIP though is that Gayle is always a hit or miss type of player. To be fair to the West Indian, he has had two back to back good seasons in IPL. He was second highest run getter behind KL Rahul in 2019 and his average of 40 was at a very high SR of 153. Gayle though hasn’t played any competitive cricket for a while and isn’t one of the quickest movers on the field either. Gayle is someone who hits big but again he also has a tendency to get stuck if things aren’t going good for him. He isn’t the greatest of fielders and I don’t think he prefers to bowl anymore. This means that KXIP by including him will be taking a huge chance.

Their choice of Nicholas Pooran for the first game did not go according to plan which might make them speculate for sure ahead of their clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore. It would be unfair on Nicholas Pooran though as he is no mug with the bat either in this format. He did have a poor game but again he does deserve another chance. KXIP also will be mulling over the inclusion of Mujeeb ur Rahman after Chris Jordan went for 30 runs in the last over of their game against DC. Sheldon Cottrell had a very good game with the ball thereby retaining his spot in the XI.

Karun Nair is another batter who will be under the scanner. He played a poor shot to the first ball he faced of Ravi Ashwin and kind of caused a mini collapse after KL Rahul had just gotten out. There is an option of Deepak Hooda or Mandeep Singh who are waiting in the wings for that middle order spot. KXIP also have the all-round option of Jimmy Neesham who provides them with a seam bowling option along with his batting ability off course.

While there is a lot for KXIP to ponder the primary discussion will be around the inclusion of Chris Gayle in the XI. The first game wasn’t as terrible as it seems. They could have gotten over the line if few things went their way and if their lower order did not panic. So possibly the franchise might still go ahead with the same XI giving all the players another opportunity to succeed. It makes sense as well as you don’t want to drop players based on one performance considering most of them haven’t played any cricket for months.

It will be interesting though to see if KXIP will avoid the temptation of tinkering with the XI. RCB are a very confident team with a great squad this season and it will not be easy to defeat them. The team from Punjab though boast of a very good bowling attack and they will be hoping for the batters to step up. Today will be a great game and all the eyes will be on the Kings XI team management as to what decision they would take in terms of the final playing XI.

A star studded franchise led by one of the most influential cricketer of the era, Royal Challengers Bangalore seem to have got it all but for an IPL title. For some reason despite having a talented and best cricketers around the world, RCB has never been able to put together a title winning season. Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers have been the constant for the franchise and they have in fact carried the hopes of the team for over 12 seasons.

This time again Virat Kohli led RCB have one of the best squads in the tournament. AB De Villiers and Captain Virat Kohli are back again in the mix. The biggest problem for RCB over the last two seasons have been their openers. Since they have gotten rid of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, the team has struggled to find the right combination at the top. This has meant that Virat Kohli has had to move up the order leaving the middle order inexperienced. The signing of Aaron Finch though will help RCB a great deal on that regard.

The Australian captain has been match fit and is coming straight after a ODI series in England which would mean that along with Parthiv Patel, RCB has finally taken care of the opening combination at least for now. They also have another exciting signing of 20 year old Devdutt Padikkal who has had an incredible start to his T20 career averaging 64 at a SR of 175. His addition in the middle order will be exciting for RCB.

Their bowling arsenal is strong as well with the legendary Dale Steyn and India’s Navdeep Saini. Adam Zampa has been roped in and they have the ever reliable Yuzvendra Chahal in the squad as well. Even though Zampa has been in tremendous form for Australia in the recently concluded ODI series, it is hard to see him make the X1 for the first game. Washington Sundar’s availability means Moeen Ali will be benched as well.

Similar to most of the seasons RCB once again have a great squad and excellent talent at their disposal. The biggest criticism they have received over the years is the way they use their squad. Their selection is all over the place and Virat kohli hasn’t shown too much patience with players which means the consistency in the X1 is something which is non existent.

Also the Bangalore venue hasn’t been kind to them as well. A small ground and a flat pitch means they normally don’t have any advantage like a team like CSK of playing in the home ground. Probably the change of scenery is what they need. The first couple of games in Dubai has shown that long boundaries mean hitting sixes isn’t that easy and scores are not that high. A fit team like RCB might take advantage of that and they pace/spin attack can actually put pressure on the batters with the pitch having some assistance to good bowling. Virat Kohli will be hoping that this year finally breaks their jinx and they would be able to claim their first IPL title.

My RCB XI for the first game:

Parthiv Patel (Wkt), Aaron Finch (O), Virat Kohli (Capt), AB De Villiers, Devudutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar, Chris Morris (O), Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn (O), Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Siraj

They can play Gukeerat Mann Singh if they want another batter to replace Siraj and they can include Adam Zampa or Moeen Ali by replacing Chris Morris by Shivam Dube. So RCB does have a very balanced squad and obviously they don’t have to have the perfect XI in the first game. The Above XI looks very balanced with good mix of batters/all rounders but again I will be tempted to get Zampa in due to his brilliant form recently.

Rishabh-Pant

Rishabh Pant’s brilliant 78 of 27 balls downed MI by 37 runs at the Wankhede Stadium.

pic courtesy The Cricket Times

The season 12 of IPL began last Saturday with it’s usual glitz and glamour. The defending champions Chennai Super Kings took on Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opener at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. Let us take a look at all 3 games which took place over the weekend.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) (MAC Stadium Chennai)

Chennai was the venue for the IPL 2019 opener and even though the game was played between two strong teams, the game itself ended up as a snooze fest. The wicket at MAC was slow and low with lots of turn and the batting was incredibly difficult for both the teams. RCB won the toss and batted first and lost their captain Virat Kohli soon for 6. The rest of the batting struggled on a sluggish pitch to end up with a sub-par total of 71 in 17.2 overs. Imran Tahir 3/9 and Harbhajan Singh 3/20 were the chief wreckers for the hosts. The pitch wasn’t ideal for a T20 game and was criticised after the game by CSK captain MS Dhoni. Chennai Super Kings crawled their way to the target in 17.4 overs with the loss of 3 wickets. Overall an underwhelming game for the fans but for the hosts though, this was a perfect start to the tournament.

CSK 71/3 in 17.4 overs (A Rayudu 28, Y Chahal 1/6) beat RCB 71 (P Patel 29, I Tahir 3/9) by 7 wickets.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) (Eden Gardens, Kolkata)

KKR opened their campaign of IPL 2019 with a game against last years finalist SRH at Eden Gardens. KKR won the toss and elected to field first on a very good batting track. SRH did not waste the opportunity with the bat though with David Warner making a brilliant comeback to IPL. He scored 85 of 53 balls and strung a 118 run first wicket partnership with Jhonny Bairstow (39) for the first wicket. SRH due to some late push from Vijay Shankar (40 of 24) reached 181/3 in 20 overs. KKR lost Chris Lynn early in the chase but Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana added 80 runs for the second wickets to keep them in the hunt. With 64 runs needed of 27 balls, Andre Russell with his brilliant 49 (19) took the game away from the visitors and KKR won the game by 6 wickets with 2 balls to spare.

KKR 183/4 in 19.4 overs (N Rana 68, R Khan 1/26) beat SRH 181/3 (D Warner 85, A Russell 2/32) by 6 wickets.

Delhi Capitals (DC) vs Mumbai Indians (MI) (Wankhede Stadium,Mumbai)

Mumbai Indians won the toss and elected to field first on a very good batting track. DC through Shikhar Dhawan and Colin Ingram kept their run-rate steady after losing Shreyas Iyer and Phritvi Shaw with just 29 runs on the board. The entry of Rishabh Pant though changed the mood completely. Pant who looked in brilliant form completely exploded with the bat and MI bowlers did not realise what hit them. Pant finished on 78 of just 27 balls propelling DC total to 213/6 in 20 overs. For MI though the target proved too stiff in the end as they got bowled out for 176, losing the game by 37 runs. The bowling performance of Kagiso Rabada (2/23) will be a big boost for DC as he will be their trump card at the start of the season. This was a brilliant win for Delhi Capitals as their new look squad this season looks more balanced and they will be looking to build on this win to reach the play-offs this season.

DC 213/6 (R Pant 78*, M McClenaghan 3/40) beat MI 176 (Y Singh 53, K Rabada 2/23) by 37 runs.

Review:

The weekend and the start of IPL season 12 wasn’t the best with a poor pitch at MAC playing the spoilsport. Royal Challengers though have themselves to blame with some daft team selection and some poor shots from the top order. CSK did not have to do much in the chase as they took their time to knock off the runs. CSK read the pitch better than RCB and picked the right team for the conditions. The RCB batters played into their hands by playing some atrocious strokes to lose their wickets as well. Both captain’s were unhappy with the pitch and Dhoni especially was critical of CSK’s home conditions.

SRH who were without their captain will be extremely happy with their batting performance and particularly will be ecstatic with David Warner’s form in the tournament opener. Vijay Shankar who has been a regular in the Indian ODI team recently also did well with the bat. The biggest concern for them will be their bowling. After keeping the runs in check for 15 overs, the last 4 overs saw them completely imploding. Their star bowler Rashid Khan was once again the best with 1/26 in 4 overs. The rest of the attack though have lot to work on in the upcoming games.

The game at Wankhede was a run fest and Rishabh Pant just tore into MI’s bowling attack with a mind blowing innings. MI who were hoping to chase something in the vicinity of 180, suddenly found themselves chasing more than 200 runs. Rishabh Pant’s brilliance meant that MI’s batting struggled to keep up with the rate and ended up on the losing side. Yuvraj Singh scoring some runs will be a good thing for MI as they had hoped for him to provide some stability to the middle order. For DC though, Rishabh Pant’s form at the start of the season will be a boost and they will be hoping to get more out of Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer in the upcoming games.

Overall a good weekend of cricket and with teams just starting to get their feet wet, we will see them evolve and improve as the tournament goes on.

Some Quotes after the games:

“The wicket definitely needs to be much better, even with dew it was spinning big,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony here last night.

“(On Pant) He is a really destructive batsman, that’s the only thing I can say about him. He has matured over the years. Today, he played four dot balls early on and then just took them apart.” Shreyas Iyer in the post match presentation ceremony.

“We made a lot of mistakes today and that was the reason we lost the match. We were in the game in the first 10 overs while bowling but the way Rishabh batted, we have to give the credit to him.” Said Rohit Sharma after their loss to DC.

 

The IPL V is nearing the Play-offs and we are yet to determine the 4 semi-finalists. The competition this year has been extremely close and we are still unsure of the two teams who will join Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Delhi Daredevils (DD). KKR and DD are without doubt the two strongest teams in the competition. They have won most of their games and have qualified for the play-offs. Both the teams have been excellently led by their respective captains and have a very good bowling attack. The rest of the teams though have been involved in an absolute fight for the final two spots. Let us look at the teams with a chance to make it to the play-offs.

Mumbai Indians – Mumbai Indians are the other strong team who has had a mixed IPL. They have managed to win 3 of their last 4 games and are probably closest to the play-offs with 5 games in hand. Mumbai Indians have struggled with their batting. They have heavily relied on Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar to get them over the line on most of the occasions which has been their undoing. Probably the induction of Dwayne Smith in the middle order might give them the required spark.

Rajasthan Royals – Rajasthan Royals are the other team who have risen above their underdog status and have posted a serious challenge to the play-offs spot. Shane Watson and Shaun Tait in the playing X1 have given them the required balance and are currently looking like a strong squad.

Royal Challengers Bangalore – The major issue for RCB this season has been their bowling attack. In spite of having Murali in their squad they have been unable to play him due to the squad composition. They have often conceded 170+ totals this season which has greatly affected their batting performance. Their batting too has been highly inconsistent. The heavy reliance on Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers has been striking this season but with Dilshan stepping up to the plate in the recent games things might finally look up for the 2011 finalists. It will be interesting to see if they manage to play Murali in the squad who in spite of taking 8 wickets in 4 games finds himself in the sidelines.

Chennai Super Kings – The defending champions probably have had their worst season by a distance. The team has struggled to find the right combination throughout. Their batting has failed to find consistency and their inability to finish off close games has been the bane for the team from the south. They still have 4 games in hand and are currently looking at winning all the games if at all they want to make it to the play-offs. Things aren’t looking that rosy for the two time champions.

Kings X1 Punjab – They are yet another team who started as an underdog but have far surpassed the pre-tournament expectations. They are currently place 5th on the table with a very good chance of qualifying for the play-offs. In the absence of their captain Adam Gilchrist, David Hussey has led the team admirably well and with the addition of Azhar Mahmood they look a good squad capable of defeating anyone on their day. They have a good bowling attack and are looking good to challenge the top teams this season. It will be interesting to see what their combination would be when Gilchrist returns.

This has probably been the first season where the competition has been so close. There are just few games to go and we are still not sure of the semi-final line up. All the teams mentioned above have a great chance of making it to the play-offs. The teams cannot afford a slip up anymore and the captains would be aware of that. The next few days will be extremely interesting and could decide the fate of most of the teams.

The IPL every year gets exciting not for the matches but for the young talent on display. Last couple of years we have had talents like Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Ravi Ashwin, who have already made the transition to the senior side. Let us look at my top 5 young players of the IPL so far. I have only considered players who have gotten limited opportunity at the national level and players who aren’t known that well before this season of IPL.

AM Rahane (Rajasthan Royals)
(Runs: 332, Ave: 47.42, SR: 140.67)

AM Rahane has already represented India at the senior level. He has already played a handful of T20 and ODI games for India and has been fighting for that elusive spot in the Indian middle order. Rahane has been a rare case in Indian cricket in recent times who has not thrown into the limelight due to his IPL exploits. Much like Pujara who made the team on the basis of consistency in domestic cricket he too has forced the selectors to take a look at him with some brilliant batting in Domestic cricket. Rahane representing Rajasthan Royals has begun this season brilliantly becoming the highest run getter so far this year. His batting has been a treat to watch with his silken drives and orthodox cricketing shots. You hardly see him slogging yet he has scored at an amazing strike rate of 140.67. The more I look at him the more I am convinced that he should make the Indian squad soon. Rahane is the only batsmen in the list and he is been brilliant and it shows that there is clearly a day light between him and the rest of youngsters in India at the moment.

Nadeem S (Delhi Daredevils)
(Wkts: 6, Ave: 21.16, SR: 21.0, Econ: 6.04)

A young left-arm spinner from Jharkhand is another player who has impressed this season. Playing for arguably the strongest team this season Delhi Daredevils Nadeem has been able to exert control in the middle overs and PP overs chocking batsmen for runs. S Nadeem has been an integral part of DD squad this season as he has been extremely economical and has picked up crucial wickets for his side. Nadeem for sure has time one his side and probably needs to be looked at more closely. His economy rate at this year’s IPL is an amazing 6.04 and seems like he is more suited to the shorter format of the game.

P Awana (Kings X1 Punjab)
(Wkts: 9, Ave: 12.67, SR: 10.67, Econ: 7.25)

Awana is yet another Indian pacer who has impressed with his pace and wicket taking ability this season. He has already become an integral member of Kings X1 set up and has done exceedingly well for them. With 9 wickets already this season he is one of the top wicket takers in initial part of IPL V. Awana is a bowler who can consistently bowl over 140 K and maintain decent line and length. His wicket taking ability is a great asset and hopefully he can last the entire season without injuries. Awana is from Delhi and has a decent first class record with a good strike rate. He is another good addition to the Indian pace bowling list and with good performances in domestic scene might come into the radar of the selector. He is another Indian pace bowler to keep an eye on for the fans.

AB Dinda (Pune Warriors)
(Wkts: 8, Ave: 13.37, SR: 13.5, Econ: 5.94)

Dinda is not a new name for the Indian fans. He has been in radar for few years now but has hardly received consistent chances at the highest level. He has been performing brilliantly for his state side Bengal over the years and has been one of the best bowlers this season in the IPL. He did receive his chance in the Asia cup earlier this year but had two contrasting performances. He has been excellent for Pune Warriors so far and has carried their attack this season without much support. His economy rate proves that he hasn’t been easy to get away in the power play overs and he has also picked up wickets regularly. He has been very good with the old ball too as he proved against Pakistan in the high scoring encounter earlier this year in Bangladesh. He has been a vital member in the Pune Warriors squad and hopefully will continue to churn in good performances this season. A good season here might earn him a call back to the Indian squad.

S Dhawan (Deccan Chargers)
(Runs: 208, Ave: 41.60, SR: 126.82)

S Dhawan is probably someone who seems to be around for ages but yet he is only 26 years old. He has been a solid performer for Delhi and has had some good performances in the IPL over the years. Playing for Deccan Chargers this season he has been very good at the top of the order. He did play for India in few games and the one noticeable aspect of his game was his inability to convert good starts. In this IPL season too he has had similar issues kicking on after a start. He has had some good starts for Deccan but has failed to convert them into big scores. Dhawan again is a good young player who could not get into the Indian squad due to the embarrassment of riches at the top of the order. He has once again had a great start to this season of IPL and would want to keep performing to get the selection committee to notice.

Honorable mention:

KP Appana (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

The rest of the young brigade has been largely disappointing. Sourabh Tiwary (RCB), Mayank Agarwal (RCB), Ashok Maneria (RR) Manish Pandey (PWI), Rahul Sharma (PWI) and Ambati Rayudu (MI) all have been extremely inconsistent. All of them have made some crucial contributions to their sides but have not been consistent enough to make the list. Ambati Rayudu and Sourabh Tiwary have been the biggest disappointments. After a great season in the IPL in 2010 both the players had a forgettable 2011 and it seems like they have carried the bad form again to 2012 season. Even though Rayudu just played a blinder against Kings X1 to take his side home, he has been largely inconsistent. Hopefully this innings will help him to get back to form and stake his claim for the national side once again. The tournament has just begun and any of the above mentioned players can turn it around for their respective sides.

Even though T20 isn’t the right format to judge the capability of a player, these guys have put in their best efforts to get noticed. You can only perform in the stage given to you. These players have not only done well in T20 but have very good first class record to go with it. This means that they have only further emphasized their stature with some good performances in IPL. Performing well in the IPL means that you get noticed instantly and it for sure enhances your chances of getting picked for the national side.


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