By Khurram Habib
New Delhi, Oct 7 : In three of their five IPL matches this season, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have conceded 200 runs or thereabouts. What has been worse is that all of these poor bowling performances have come in Dubai, where none of the other six games, which haven’t featured RCB, have seen anything close to 200.
This continues the problem of bowling options for skipper Virat Kohli, especially at the ‘death’, and if the early trend is anything to go by, it will be this weakness that may again stand in the way of RCB’s quest for an IPL title.
Kohli has been RCB captain since 2013 when he was appointed the regular skipper.
Among the IPL skippers who have led their sides in more than 100 matches — MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir being the other ones — Kohli has the worst success percentage and is the only one among them to have not won an IPL title.
Gambhir, who led KKR to two IPL titles, has in the past criticised Kohli’s leadership skills, saying that the India captain is very lucky and needs to be thankful to RCB for letting him captain the side for such an extended period. This is the eighth year of Kohli being in charge of RCB — the most after MS Dhoni at Chennai Super Kings.
His win percentage is less than 50, which means he has lost more than half the games. None of those mentioned above have had such a poor record.
Things began well in the first match of this season when all-rounder Shivam Dube bowled an economical 19th over to seal the win over SunRisers Hyderabad. However, it all fell apart in the very next match when Dube conceded 23 runs against Kings XI Punjab in the last over. Dale Steyn, who bowled the second last over, conceded 26.
It brought back a familiar headache for Kohli.
In recent seasons, neither Umesh Yadav nor Navdeep Saini, both pretty quick, have had any success in stopping the run-flow towards the end. Most other teams have got bowlers who can bowl at the ‘death’, with Mumbai Indians having Jasprit Bumrah and James Pattinson, Kings XI Punjab have Mohammed Shami and Sheldon Cottrell, SunRisers Hyderabad had Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has got injured, while Chennai Super Kings have Dwayne Bravo.
After the match against Delhi Capitals, an embarrassed Kohli blamed his bowlers to letting Delhi Capitals get to 196, a total hard to chase in Dubai. “The execution with the ball towards the end could have been better,” he said after the match which RCB lost by 59 runs.
Against Delhi Capitals, his bowlers conceded 53 in the last four overs, against Kings XI Punjab 74 in the last four overs and 79 against Mumbai Indians.
A desperate Kohli said that he was looking forward to the return of Chris Morris, who hasn’t played a match this season. Morris doesn’t just provide a ‘death’ overs option with the ball but also one with the bat.
Morris’s career T20 economy rate is less than eight though last year, for RCB, he went well over nine. He could be the only hope for Kohli.