Strike rates, RCB’s bowlers and Mayank Yadav – talking points ahead of the RCB-LSG clash

PC – BCCI. Kohli composed an unbeaten fifty

At the completion of Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s innings against Kolkata Knight Riders, Virat Kohli was largely praised for playing with pluck on a track that seemed to be on the slower side. All it took was 90 minutes for his critics to question whether his strike rate of 140 was good enough in the world of slam-bang T20 cricket. On that night, Sunil Narine, Phil Salt, Venkatesh Iyer and Shreyas Iyer made short work of the chase. 

As RCB brace themselves for the game versus Lucknow Super Giants, question marks remain over Kohli’s strike rate. If you delve deeper into how Kohli played, you wonder whether his innings was the main reason for the loss. The answer would be a no. After all, the conditions at the start of the innings were a touch tougher to bat, with KKR’s bowlers employing slower short ones to extract loopy bounce. 

The crux of RCB’s problems seemed to be their pace bowlers. Just do some number-crunching and you would notice 51 per cent of the deliveries bowled by KKR were slower ones. RCB’s slower-ball-percentage was a mere 24%. The only RCB pacer who consistently tried slower ones was Vijaykumar Vysak. 

In that context, RCB can bring in Reece Topley or Lockie Ferguson into the side in place of Alzarri Joseph. The 6’7″ inch Topley doesn’t just extract bounce from a high release but swings the ball up front and mixes up the pace as well as angles. The RCB camp also would be worried about the form of Rajat Patidar, Glenn Maxwell, Faf du Plessis and Cameron Green. Patidar, renowned for his stroke-play, has looked out of sorts since the start of the home Test series versus England. 

Meanwhile, LSG’s skipper, KL Rahul, too has come under the scanner for his inability to maintain a healthy strike rate in the PowerPlay. In fact, the opener has not scored at a strike rate of more than 140 in the IPL since the 2018 season. To make matters worse, Rahul could only play as an impact sub in the previous game as he was laid by fitness issues. If in case Rahul doesn’t take the field tomorrow, then Nicholas Pooran would have to again lead the side.

On a positive note, unlike RCB, LSG did win their last game versus Punjab Kings. And the hero of that match was the debutant, Mayank Yadav. The fast bowler clocked speeds in the range of 150-155 kph. He also hit the deck hard, which in turn ensured that the batters couldn’t land their shots with conviction.

Can Kohli and Rahul silence their detractors? Will Mayank come good at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, especially in the backdrop of the stadium having shorter boundaries? What about RCB’s pace attack? Will they put up a good show? There is plenty to look forward to in a clash between the sixth and ninth ranked sides.


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