The current table-toppers RCB have won all of their three games in the Chepauk leg. They had never won all three of their first games in a season IPL before. The magnitude of three consecutive victories, at the start of the season, is quite high.
This great start has given RCB a bit of cushion for the upcoming ‘tough’ games. Each win is extremely important for playoff chances in the highly competitive IPL and three in three is just amazing.
Before the start of the tournament, the Criclytics algorithm by cricket.com predicted that RCB have a 43% chance of qualification and it has sky-rocketed to 92% as of now.
RCB’s squad isn’t very great, however, they have utilised the venue advantage of Chepauk with decent tactics and have been aided by some luck. The big guys like AB de Villiers & Glenn Maxwell have turned up and played a key role in RCB’s success so far. Their Indian bowling core has also stepped up fairly so far.
AB de Villiers’ genius combined with Glenn Maxwell’s madness:
AB de Villiers is an all-time IPL great and he has always stood tall for the Red Army. His multifold skills make people go in awe. de Villiers’ impact on RCB is huge — when he fires, RCB win on most occasions. The IPL followers don’t need stats to know his positive influence on RCB.
Despite not being a regular cricketer anymore, the South African has seldom disappointed in the IPL since his retirement.
Also, RCB should be applauded for taking the correct decisions regarding de Villiers’ entry point in this season.
AB de Villiers lacked support in the middle-order. Virat Kohli had a mediocre season in 2020 and it worsened things for them. While it was Aaron Finch who was expected to take pressure off from Kohli and de Villiers in 2020, RCB gambled with Glenn Maxwell in 2021.
Maxwell’s IPL record, barring a couple of seasons, didn’t inspire a lot of confidence. However, the Australian has been a big relief for Kohli and Co.
RCB’s batting issues against spin-bowling have been under the spotlight for quite some time. Their problems against spinners were expected to hurt them again in the Chepauk leg.
However, Maxwell took the responsibility for his side and has been the best spin-hitter in the competition so far.
Maxwell’s performance against spinners becomes even more crucial because of the venue. On average, all the batsmen have a false shot percentage of 21.36% against spinners in Chepauk while Maxwell, 16.67%. He hasn’t been very secure but considering the risky shots and the conditions, it’s OK.
ALSO READ: Glenn Maxwell’s impact on RCB
Maxwell’s contribution has been quite crucial in all three games, especially in the last two games because of the match situation he played in.
Maxwell has batted in his own way. The question ‘what has he changed?’ needs to be shut down unless there is cherry-picking. His IPL failures should be more surprising because he is one of the best middle-order batsmen in T20Is and other leagues.
The things have deservingly fallen in place for the ‘Big Show’ and RCB would it continuous throughout the season.
The impressive performances of Indian bowling core:
Mohammed Siraj has quickly risen as a powerplay enforcer for RCB since the last edition.
Even though he has picked up just one powerplay wicket in 2021 so far, 28.57% of his deliveries have induced a false shot. The batsmen have managed a strike rate of just 92.86 against Siraj in this phase.
The right-arm quick has bowled in the channel and on good and short lengths depending upon the batsman. However, Siraj’s bowling against big hitters has been a big revelation so far. Against MI, he bowled good short-balls to Kieron Pollard and was good against Rohit, Lynn and Kishan as well.
His best death-bowling performance came against Andre Russell. Siraj kept the ball out of his arc and attempted wide-yorkers. He also surprised Russell with a short-ball and sealed the game for his side under pressure.
RCB’s death bowling was expected to be a major problem for them this time around. However, it hasn’t been so far as Harshal Patel has led the charge well.
He has bowled 58.33% of his balls (42) in the overs 16-20 and yet his death-over numbers are outrageous. The batsmen have scored at a strike rate of under 80 with just two boundaries against Harshal in the mentioned phase. About 43% of his balls have drawn false shot and he has picked up eight wickets as well.
Harshal has used cutters and bouncers well, also assisted by the slow Chepauk surface. But, he has increased the number of yorkers this season. Harshal bowled just one yorker in 2020 while 12 already in this season so far. About 49% of his balls were off-cutters in 2020 and it has decreased to 34.72% this season.
He has bowled 16 full-length balls this season and has an economy of under 6 which suggests those full-length balls weren’t exactly in the slot. They were also similar to yorkers and didn’t allow the batsmen to get the desired elevation.
The improvement is significant and Harshal deserves plenty of credit.
The likes of Shahbaz Ahmed, Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal also have been decent at times.
What lies ahead for RCB?
Generally, the teams, which look strong on paper and do well, have a strong Indian batting core and at least one good overseas pacer. Despite following the opposite trend so far, RCB have tasted three victories. However, the good times might not last throughout the season as RCB need a few fixes.
Kohli and Padikkal, their Indian openers, need to step up in the upcoming games in Mumbai (two games), Ahmedabad (four) and Kolkata (five). Kohli is batting at his best position in this format and there is no reason to not deliver. Two games have been off for Devdutt and he would try to do better on good batting surfaces.
RCB should look to add Navdeep Saini in their bowling attack. It worked without him in Chennai but a more versatile attack is required in upcoming matches.
Yuzvendra Chahal also needs to produce better performances on good batting tracks, which hasn’t been the case in recent times. But Kohli should avoid bowling him in the powerplay and death overs.
It will be interesting to see for how long does Kyle Jamieson lasts in the RCB XI. He hasn’t been great so far and a bigger challenge will need better execution and planning.
NOTE: All stats are updated till 19 April 2021.