Challengers need to come good, quickly
The last few days have seen the Bangalore Royal Challengers sliding dangerously towards a deep canyon.
Whatever strategies and combination they have adopted have not worked, and their propensity to falter at crucial moments has doubled the woes.
A cramped Indian Premier League schedule means they will not have much time to recover from a soul-shattering defeat to Chennai Super Kings on Monday before taking on Delhi Daredevils in their fifth match at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Wednesday. The Bangalore side has won only one match thus far.
The visitors will have to correct a number of areas in just over 24 hours, the most prominent among them being their batting. Apart from Ross Taylor, hardly anybody else has looked the part in the Twenty20 competition. The New Zealander once again will have to lead from the front. They need some momentum upfront while chasing formidable totals, and so far they have not found a settled opening combination.
Wasim Jaffer's fifty against the Super Kings had a few bold shots, but the fact that he had two reprieves during the course of that innings might not fill the think-tank with much confidence. It will not be a bad idea to promote either Praveen Kumar or Mark Boucher as it might give them the much needed impetus at the top. There is also no logic in keeping out a T20 expert like Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq.
It is imperative that the Royal Challengers batsmen come up with a strong show, though that will not be an easy task, given the Delhi bowling attack. The home side has a potent new-ball attack with Glenn McGrath and Mohammad Asif leading the way. Both bowlers have taken wickets and restricted runs at the same time, playing a big role in making Delhi one of the top teams in this event.
Batsmen have struggled against the duo so far in the competition, and scoring runs off them will be a huge challenge for the tottering Bangalore batsmen. But the openers cannot entirely be blamed for their debacle. Royal Challengers lost eight wickets for 60-odd runs against Chennai on Monday to snatch defeat. In that context, they need a totally revamped approach against one of the stronger bowling attacks, otherwise they will find themselves entrenched in crisis territory.
Bangalore also have to tighten their act in the bowling department, especially in the slog overs. The bowlers came up with some miserly overs in the initial stages against Chennai, but leaked runs towards the end as the visitors racked up a hard-to-chase total.
Delhi have the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan, all glittering stroke-makers. It does not require an analytical brain to conjure the consequences of another flop show against this set.
But the Delhi line-up has its own problems. They hadnít been severely tested in this tournament before they came up against Kings XI Punjab. The Delhi team showed fragility for the first time to accept a distasteful verdict a couple of days ago.
That setback might have helped jolt them awake from a reverie and brace up for the match against Royal Challengers. The Delhi team has received a boost with South African batsman AB de Villiers joining them. The Protean at adept in playing in sub-continental conditions, and that will go a long way in bolstering their batting.
Bangalore have to address more problems than their rivals at this stage, but this is the time for them to show a bit of steel.