Beleaguered Royal Challengers Bengaluru look to break losing run

PC – BCCI. RCB will depend on the experienced pair for a rousing start

The following question perhaps best describes Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s sorry state of affairs in IPL 2024. Is there a way out of what seems like a never-ending long tunnel of darkness for the franchise? After all, they have won only one out of seven matches so far. Miracles do happen, but it seems unlikely that RCB would qualify for the playoffs this year.

If RCB doesn’t progress to the next stage, the franchise would at least hope to stitch together a string of three-four wins and redeem their disastrous campaign to some extent. And the first step towards that would be to usurp the in-form Kolkata Knight Riders in their own backyard at Eden Gardens.

For starters, RCB’s bowling has come under scrutiny right through the tournament. For the first couple of weeks, it was difficult to find any bowler from the franchise in the top 15-20 list of wicket-takers for the season. Now, Yash Dayal, their top wicket-taker, is listed at a lowly 39 with five wickets at a rather modest average of 41.8. Mohammed Siraj, who was expected to lead the pace attack, was even left out of RCB’s last game versus Sunrisers Hyderabad.

It is true that the conditions at the Chinnaswamy Stadium are batting-friendly, but that doesn’t serve as an excuse for the bowlers’ inability to bowl to set fields. With the bowlers not functioning as a unit, it has led to enough chopping and changing. In that backdrop, RCB would be better of picking a set combination for at least a few games.

Among the batters, Virat Kohli is still the Orange Cap holder for the season, while Dinesh Karthik has turned out to be a ruthless pace-hitter down the order. After  a slow start, Faf du Plessis too has made some decent contributions, although his leadership has come under criticism. But even the batting unit has malfunctioned to a certain extent. Glenn Maxwell and Cameron Green have been the two biggest disappointments. 

Meanwhile, despite slipping to a gut-wrenching loss to Rajasthan Royals, the current table-toppers, KKR would believe they are on the right track. Sunil Narine’s stellar form at the top of the order, and his quick starts with Phil Salt, has been cornerstone of their fine performance. Narine also has been at his miserly best with the ball in hand, going at under seven an over. With Varun Chakravarthy also in the mix, KKR would believe they have the required arsenal to test a  batting line-up that isn’t exactly renowned for its prowess versus spin bowling. Mitchell Starc’s poor form is one of the few worry-lines for the side.

If KKR get back to winning ways, they will slot back in at the second position. For RCB, it is about breaking the jinx of not having won a game over 26 days. Form book says KKR to emerge victorious.