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How Royal Challengers regained their position at the IPL high table


What a turnaround! When the going got tough, Royal Challengers got going.
| Photo Credit: K BHAGYA PRAKASH

 In sport, as in life, losses and setbacks deepen faultlines while wins and successes mask them. Royal Challengers Bengaluru has been a living example of this.

Just over three weeks ago, when the side agonisingly lost by a solitary run to Kolkata Knight Riders, it was the outfit’s seventh loss in eight games and left it on the brink of elimination.

RCB’s batting methods, bowling arsenal, squad strength and auction strategy were all called into question. Even the otherwise overtly sympathetic cricket analysts broke ranks to criticise.

But with five victories on the trot, Faf du Plessis’ men have completely flipped the narrative. The latest of those on Sunday, against Delhi Capitals at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, has left them dreaming of a spot in the playoffs. Jeered and heckled for being a seemingly dysfunctional unit, RCB suddenly can do no wrong.

The turnaround largely owes to a batting order that finally has a settled look. The triggers, ironically, were the two losses to Sunrisers Hyderabad and KKR just before the winning streak, where RCB scored 262 and 221 while pursuing targets of 288 and 223 respectively.

Virat Kohli, the batting fulcrum, has scored consistent runs, but at a faster clip in line with current T20 standards. With maverick Glenn Maxwell woefully out of form, Englishman Will Jacks has stepped up. Aussie all-rounder Cameron Green, traded in for a whopping ₹17.5 crores, has quietly come into his own. Rajat Patidar, who had a wretched debut Test series against England earlier this year, has reasserted his class.

The bowling attack has been effective without appearing menacing. Mohammed Siraj is back swinging the ball and has been ably assisted by Lockie Ferguson and Yash Dayal. The spin duo of Swapnil Singh and Karn Sharma has done enough for RCB to not miss Yuzvendra Chahal and Wanindu Hasaranga, at least for now.

“There has been a positive change,” said Dayal, after the win over DC. “Even when we were losing, nobody [in the club] was pointing fingers. We have also become more attacking. If you lose so many matches, the morale generally comes down. But not here.”

RCB may still not make the playoffs, for it has to beat Chennai Super Kings and hope for results elsewhere to go its way. Jacks is set to leave for National duty while there are lingering questions over the failure to fit in Karnataka pacer V. Vyshak, the capabilities of big-money signing Alzarri Joseph and the absence of a world-class spinner.

But with five statement wins, RCB has proved that it still has a place at the IPL high table.



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