RCB load ammo for erratic Royals
Royal Challengers Bangalore would aim to get their strategy right after some inexplicable decisions during Thursday’s loss to Kings XI Punjab when they take on an erratic Rajasthan Royals here on Saturday.
The Virat Kohli-led RCB have won five of their eight games on the back of all-round performances, but seemingly blundered in the eight-wicket defeat to laggards KXIP on Thursday. On the other hand, the Royals’ campaign this season has been marred by numerous top-order collapses, forcing the lower half to pull them across the finish line.
RCB’s five wins so far include a Super Over triumph over Mumbai Indians at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The Royals, on the other hand, lie seventh in the standings with just three wins from eight outings.
Against KXIP on Thursday, AB de Villiers, who has been in fine form, was sent in to bat at number six, a baffling decision by the RCB. Left-handers Washington Sundar (13) and Shivam Dube (23) were promoted up the order to accompany skipper Kohli. The experiment didn’t work as all three batsmen struggled. To add to RCB’s woes, while defending the total, Kohli decided to save the in-form Sundar for the big-hitting Chris Gayle, who came in to bat in the eighth over. That gamble didn’t pay off either as the 41-year-old Jamaican smashed the young off-spinner for four sixes.
“We had a chat, a message from outside about left-right combination and we wanted to go with it because they had two leggies. Sometimes things don’t come off,” Kohli said after the match.
The Royals boast of a strong batting line-up. But the likes of Steve Smith and Sanju Samson have failed to score since the two victories in Sharjah at the beginning of the tournament. Jos Buttler too has been unable to capitalise on his starts. After failing in his first match of the season, Ben Stokes, who has been elevated to the role of an opener, struck 41 before he was run out against the Delhi Capitals.
The inaugural season champions have relied on Rahul Tewatia to rescue them from precarious positions and the all-rounder managed to do that twice, against KXIP and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Jofra Archer spearheads the Rajasthan bowling unit, along with the spin duo of Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal, who have consistently figured in an XI that has gone through a lot of chopping and changing.