NEW DEHLI: On Sunday, Royal Challengers Bangalore leaked the joint second-highest number of runs (88) in the final five overs in IPL history, against Rajasthan Royals, allowing them to post 217. It was the third-highest total for any team against RCB in the tournament. On Tuesday, RCB once again were in a charitable mood, as Mumbai Indians ravaged 70 runs in the slog overs. They ended up with 213 – the fourth-highest total against RCB, who couldn’t chase either of those targets.
Coach Daniel Vettori pointed to the failure of his bowling attack to contain oppositions between overs 16 and 20 as a major reason for why the team is languishing in seventh place.
Virat Kohli was furious at the failure of his batsmen to stitch together match-turning partnerships, but he might just agree with Vettori’s assessment too. The RCB captain had won the toss and declared that the Wankhede pitch favoured chasing, especially because he was mindful of the cloud cover.
Two wickets off the first two balls of the match by Umesh Yadav suggested Kohli’s decision was a wise one. Winless in their first three matches, Mumbai would have felt desperate. Royal Challengers had a massive opportunity, but their plans were torn apart by the marauding Evin Lewis, whose quickfire half-century, combined with trademark acceleration towards the end from Rohit Sharma resurrected Mumbai’s innings.
According to Vettori, the bowlers’ below-par performance only added to the batsmen’s burden. “The frustration will be around the backend of the bowling because when you are chasing that much, it puts an extreme amount of pressure on how we play,” Vettori said. “Virat played exceptionally well today, but unfortunately no one could go with him. So our frustrations will be about how we ended with the ball in the last two games.”
Royal Challengers have fared the worst among all teams at the death this tournament, giving up 12.49 runs an over. Even their best bowlers haven’t escaped punishment. Umesh, after that sparkling start, failed to create further inroads. His economy rate in the final overs this IPL is 15.20. Chris Woakes’ is 10.89, although he has taken six wickets. Kulwant Khejroliya, the uncapped Indian left-arm fast bowler, goes at a steep 13.63.
Vettori said that one big difference in the bowling attacks on Tuesday was the contrasting strategy applied by the spinners. If Krunal Pandya and Mayank Markande were attacking for Mumbai, Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar were defensive, bowing to the pressure created by Lewis and Rohit early on.
“Washington and Yuzi were probably in defensive positions as Lewis and Rohit were going a bit more aggressive. And so, we probably bowled a bit more defensively,” Vettori said. “When the Mumbai spinners came on, they were in a really good position, and that allowed them to actually bowl a little more attacking, with a bit more flight, put something on the ball, and you saw the rewards they got. But they (Mumbai) batted exceptionally well, and that was the difference between when our spinners bowled and when their spinners bowled.”