RCB and their death overs issues with the ball – what a cliche! More often than not, their bowling performances are blamed for their losses. Indeed, Royal Challengers have produced appalling returns in the death overs. Since IPL 2017, no team has a higher economy in the last four overs (overs 17-20) than that of RCB.
However, the best bowling team in the death overs – Sunrisers Hyderabad – concedes just about 9 runs lower than Royal Challengers do in this timeframe. If the overall bowling averages and economy rates are the benchmarks, RCB are marginally better than three of the current IPL teams. These numbers are not thrown to prove that Royal Challengers are a good bowling side by any stretch of one’s imagination, but to highlight RCB’s issues somewhere else as well – their batting.
RCB’s BATTING WOES
Since 2017, no IPL team has a lower batting average than that of Royal Challengers . If we take the overall batting average of the top 7 batsmen, RCB would still remain the worst.
To be fair to RCB, these are overall numbers and are majorly affected due to their 2017 season. In that season, the overall averages and strike rates of the top seven Royal Challengers batsmen – along with all batsmen – were at an all low time since 2010.
In 2017, the Chinnaswamy stadium, the home ground of RCB, didn’t have good batting surfaces. At their home ground, their batting performance was the worst in a season since 2009. Their woes were increased due to unavailability of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in some games.
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In 2018-19, the overall batting average of the top seven RCB batsmen – and all RCB batsmen – was below-par by a small margin, and the scoring rate was above-par by a small margin. However, being near the par does not help because their batting needed to step-up to compensate for their mediocre bowling attack. In both seasons the pitches at home were not as poor as they were in 2017. Plus, the fact that the ground’s boundaries are small should only help their batting unit.
Ideally, the 2017 season should not be discounted because the decks in the UAE are not going to be very good for batting. The Royal Challengers batsmen failed to adapt to the slower batting surfaces in 2017 – something they might want to work on for the upcoming edition.
RCB’s ISSUES AGAINST SPIN BOWLING:
RCB are comfortably the worst batting side against spinners in the past two IPL seasons. Even discounting 2017, a horrendous season, nothing can sum up their Achilles’ heel against spin bowling. While the overall average of all teams against spinners is 28, Royal Challengers average about 23. Not only do they have a poor average, but their scoring rate is also below-par against spinners.
They have not performed well against leg-spinners, left-arm orthodox spinners and off-spinners. Even though the issues of Kohli and de Villiers against leg-spinners, especially against googlies, seem to be on the rise, their numbers are not far away from the par. The league average against leg-spinners is 25, RCB average 22; the league scoring rate is 7.46 RPO, RCB’s is 7.4.
Their main problem is not maximising the overs of off-spinners and left-arm orthodox spinners. The league average against off-spinners is 30, RCB average 17; the league scoring rate is 7.64, RCB score at 6.85 RPO. Against SLA bowlers, the league average is 31.38, RCB average about 23, and score at a below-par rate as well.
RCB’s batsmen have poor numbers against off-spinners because of the poor returns of their right-handed batsmen, which is surprising considering the turn into them helps scoring quickly. Kohli and de Villiers have not been up to the mark against off-spin.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE UAE?
The main problem of the Royal Challengers batting unit is that they are just near the par in the past two seasons – overall and phase-wise. Just being par is often not enough to qualify.
Apart from the obvious struggles against spin bowling, one of their main issues is the lack of reliable lower-order batters. In 2018-19, Kohli and de Villiers averaged 42.43 and had an exceptional strike rate of 245.46 in the death overs. The other batsmen or all-rounders averaged 16.36 and a strike rate of 163.61.
RCB can use de Villiers at No. 5 depending on the situation at times. The batting position is not a huge factor, rather it’s about de Villiers facing more balls when fewer overs of spin are left. Whilst this point was already discussed in this article, here is some more light on this.
The stat says that de Villiers scores at 7.64 RPO in his first 10 balls since 2018 and needs time to settle at this stage of his innings. So, do you want to give the a not-so-quick-starter a role in which acceleration is required at the beginning of the innings? In his first 10 balls against spin-bowlers, he scores at 7.96 RPO, against pacers, at 8.86 RPO. His overall numbers against spinners have also taken a hit in the past few years, so this move has a logic.
To counter the off-spin threat, Kohli needs to up his intent. Aaron Finch was a good acquisition by Royal Challengers in the auction. However, since the home ground of Bangalore is no more Chinnaswamy, he could be in trouble. Even though Finch is a decent player of spin, he does not have a good record in Asian nations. Adjusting to the slower surfaces of the UAE might be an issue for him.
However, if Finch manages to do so, he can help RCB in negotiating the off-spinners. Finch’s intent in the T20 format is perfect and against off-spinners as well.
To counter leg-spinners and left-arm orthodox spinners, they should promote left-handed batsmen. This will help in maintaining the LHB-RHB combination as well. Devdutt Padikkal looks pretty good against spinners, as do Washington Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed and Pawan Negi, although in much lesser capacity. Moeen Ali is also a spin power-hitter and RCB would hope that the English all-rounder is in good touch.
How RCB perform against finger spinners will be important because they tend to become more effective on decks which assist spinners as we saw in the CPL this year.