Bangalore in survival mode now
To say that the Royal Challengers are in a state of flux is a gross understatement.
Over the last couple of weeks, Rahul Dravidís men have unwittingly adhered to Murphyís Law: everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for them and their worst fears are what the future holds.
Ridiculed for picking a team fit for the longer version and chastised for their mediocre performance, the Challengers are like the walking wounded. Wounded in pride and wounded in soul.
With just six games left in the Indian Premier League, Dravidís men will need all the luck in the world to turn things around. Even then, it may not be enough and the worst thing that could have happened to them is the loss of faith in the team by its owner, Vijay Mallya. Having steadfastly maintained silence until now, Mallya has come out with a scathing indictment of Dravid, the team and its former CEO, Charu Sharma.
What it does to a team already struggling for confidence is to only hurl it back further and there is no gainsaying the fact that the team is like one split family. Forget the camaraderie between the players, they probably wonít even have the inclination to look each other in the eye. Little wonder then that they stayed locked in their rooms prior to the match against the Kings XI Punjab on Monday.
By sacking Sharma midway through the competition, Mallya sent shockwaves through the camp and now by voicing his displeasure with the composition of the squad, he has numbed them beyond belief.
"We havenít played good cricket, itís understandable that such comments will come. The big names arenít doing well, we havenít got the combination right," was all that Dravid would say.
Perhaps, this is the reason why the Royal Challengers are travelling with their families. Most of the 18-member Challenger team and the support staff have been joined by their families and itís a big entourage with wives and kids in tow. Apparently, finding solace in their nearest ones seems to be the only option for the suffering Challengers. Then again, they have only brought it upon themselves.
With Mallyaís patience wearing thin, a fallout was inevitable.
but even then, the sheer drama took oneís breath away. How the Challengers tackle their next six games is the big question, for, the confidence of the team is at its lowest ebb.
To say that they have to pick themselves off the floor is mildly stating the obvious but itís easier said than done.
Despite being under tremendous pressure, Dravid has maintained equanimity. "We need to win those close games, the ones that we lost by three runs, ten runs and 11 runs. We need to get consistent. I still maintain in the quality in the team," said the captain putting on a brave face.
More than anything, Mallya is upset with the team selection and has insisted at every turn, right from the day the Challengers were launched, that Misbah-ul-Haq is his choice. Does it mean Dravid and Sharma were against the Pakistaniís inclusion? It has also been suggested in some quarters that Sharma lost his job because of the manner in which Misbah was repeatedly benched, but then again, the Pakistan batsman didnít get to play in Kolkata despite new CEO Brijesh Patel coming on board.
Sometimes when things go wrong, everything that you do backfires and that, unfortunately, has been Dravidís problem. The next two weeks will probably be the most difficult in Dravidís illustrious career.