RCB’s Middle Order Woes: Impeding the Fearless Play of the Top 4
According to Captain du Plessis, the top four could not play “more fearlessly” because of the other players’ inability to score.
Zero titles for season 16 (still).
Here is the Royal Challengers Bangalore 2023 narrative.
In a high-scoring, rain-interrupted game on Sunday, RCB lost to the reigning champion Gujarat Titans, destroying whatever dreams they had of reaching the playoffs for the fourth straight season of the IPL. A must-win scenario awaited RCB in the last group game, but Shubman Gill’s hundred defeated local favourite Virat Kohli’s tonne to help the team finish sixth on the points chart, behind Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals.
Faf du Plessis, who has now captained the squad for two seasons, was quick to confess that they were “light on the middle order” when questioned about where the team went wrong this season, although RCB scored more than 180 in nine out of 14 games.
During that season, a top all-star order made up of du Plessis, Kohli, and Glenn Maxwell carried the load and shielded a middle order that was vulnerable and just waiting to be exposed. Du Plessis led the run charts with 730 runs at a strike rate of 153.68 and eight fifty-plus scores. Kohli finished with 639 runs at a strike rate of 139.82, including back-to-back hundreds in RCB’s final two games and six half-centuries before that. Maxwell scored 400 runs with a strike rate of 183.48 because of his aggressive style of play. Out of the 2502 runs the squad scored, these three individuals provided 1769. In 14 games, the other hitters only contributed 733 runs.
Du Plessis said the top four batsmen “contributed well from a batting perspective.” Maxi (Maxwell) was excellent. Virat and I followed. We were short on the intermediate order. Through some power-hitting in the latter innings, we continuously failed to score a few runs from during the season, the centre of the ranking.
The squad ultimately suffered because the middle order of Dinesh Karthik, Mahipal Lomror, Anuj Rawat, and Shahbaz Ahmed needed to score more frequently. Karthik struggled in 2023, managing only 140 runs in 13 games. In this IPL, Lomror played 10 games but only managed 135 runs. Rawat scored 91 runs in seven innings with 71 balls.
Karthik is the most seasoned RCB hitter in the middle and lower order, scoring 7081 runs from 386 T20s at an average of 135.28. He had a fantastic 2022 season, scoring 330 with 16 games played with a strike rate of 183.33 and assisting RCB in winning games, but he could not repeat that performance in this one. RCB were deemed inadequate as Rajat Patidar also missed the competition owing to injuries.
Du Plessis said that successful IPL teams had “two strong hitters at five, six, or seven to make sure the team gets that impetus” after each inning and that they needed to “improve a lot” in completing games in the required time.
“DK had a fantastic season last year, perhaps one of his best periods of play, and he was winning games left, right, and centre. It was not to be this year, and that is how cricket is played. I believed he carried a heavy burden. He could have a helper who could do that duty.
Revamping RCB’s Middle Order: A Critical Need for IPL Success
The batting coach of RCB, Sanjay Bangar, acknowledged that the top three may have needed to play more cautiously than the top three of other teams since the middle-order’s subpar performance may have impacted them.
It may play a role. The interviewer added that T20 is such a format that you don’t have time to go back into form if you lose a couple of wickets if the batters are not in shape. “That may have had a result. We could have scored an additional 10-15 runs, or the top order would have played more confidently if our lower order had been doing well and converted the few balls they had. Our hitting performance throughout the power play and middle innings was fantastic, but in most games, our contributions in the final five overs cost us a little.
RCB failed to defend three totals of 190 or more runs, including the one on Sunday where at least one of du Plessis, Kohli, or Maxwell had a big knock with the rest of the batters failing to provide support from the other end. After the 81-run loss to Kolkata Knight Riders, RCB fell short by 8 and 21 runs in two games.
The bottom order should have done more, Bangar continued, despite the season’s restricted possibilities for them.
“Our top order didn’t score many runs last season. As a result, according to Bangar, Shahbaz and Dinesh, the lower-tier players who had a terrific season the previous year scored the majority of the goals. But because the top order was hitting so well this season, the bottom order had few opportunities. DK had a season that was likely below his expectations; if he had performed better in a few games, we would have added 15-20 runs in the crucial contests, and those runs would have been the difference between a victory and a loss.
“And you have to invest time in being patient with the young players; that’s something most organisations agree on. Mahipal played a fair number of innings, but he was more reliable. Once the dust has settled, we will review our initial plan to determine the level of consistency we want to provide the gamers with.
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