Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli of the Royal Challengers Bangalore in action against the Chennai Super Kings in the Tata Indian Premier League match at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, on April 17, 2023. Kohli was dismissed cheaply, a rare failure this season for the former Indian captain. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

The Royal Challengers Bangalore lost an IPL match they should have won. Well, what’s new? The margin of defeat against the Chennai Super Kings was only eight runs. Now, that gives the impression of an intensely fought contest. It was. But the wheels came off after skipper Faf du Plessis was dismissed.

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium is RCB’s home ground. It’s their backyard, where they should be calling the shots. Instead, it was the CSK who called the shots on Monday. The Bangalore stadium has never been a happy hunting ground for the RCB, who have lost more than 50 per cent of the IPL games at the venue. The loss to Chennai was an addition to that sickening piece of statistic for RCB supporters.

The RCB have lost three of their five matches. That isn’t a surprise to me since my pre-tournament assessment of the team was hardly encouraging. I was confident they didn’t have the team to make the playoffs. As an RCB supporter, I was hoping that Josh Hazlewood would recover from his injury soon and that the return of Wanindu Hasaranga would beef up the attack. Hazlewood hasn’t returned, Hasaranga hasn’t found his lengths and RCB misery continues.

How CSK get huge support in Bengaluru

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are neighbouring states in southern India. The capital cities, Bengaluru and Chennai, are around 350 away from each other. The WhistlePodu (Blow the whistle) army of CSK fans must have boarded the trains and packed the Chinnaswamy Stadium. And Bengaluru is home to a sizeable Tamil population. Not just that. The CSK appeal stretches beyond Tamil Nadu.

So the Chennai players would have felt like playing at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. RCB 12the Man Army of fans were out in force, but they were equalled or outnumbered by the WhitlePodu brigade. Or so it seemed on television.

The loudest cheer in the stadium went up when RCB’s talisman Virat Kohli was dismissed. I was left wondering whether it was Bengaluru or Chepauk. That told me the intensity of CSK’s support.

To RCB’s credit, they didn’t it distract them. Du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell kept them in the hunt with incredible power-hitting, and the chants of R-C-B, R-C-B, R-C-B only grew louder. After they holed out in the deep, there was no fight left in Bangalore. The finisher Dinesh Karthik doesn’t seem to finish games any more. His woeful run from the T20 World Cup continued.

Middle-order batting is where the RCB lost the game. There was no one to carry the momentum after the departure of Maxwell and Du Plessis. Contrast it with the chase of the Rajasthan Royals on Sunday. From 66/4, skipper Sanju Samson powered their revival, and Shimron Hetmyer took over after his exit. And every batman that followed, including Dhruv Jurel and Ravichandran Ashwin, weighed in. For RCB, the bottom fell off when Du Plessis was dismissed.

Is DK the finisher finished?

The truth is Bangalore don’t have good quality finishers. Karthik seemed past his best, and RCB need to buy players like Marcus Stoinis, Nicholas Pooran, Hetmyer, Liam Livingstone or Tim David, who can bring quick runs in the slog overs. A top-quality finisher would have made the difference on Monday, as RCB had the chase under control despite a target of 227.

read more

Yes, they conceded far too many runs. The Bengaluru pitch has always been a bowler’s graveyard, and the short boundaries make it worse. Yet, Mohammed Siraj turned in a decent spell, The rest, including Hasaranga, fell away.

Slog overs as always leaked runs. Harshal Patel, the death-over specialist, continued his wayward ways this season. Yet the batters hauled the RCB into the game, despite the early loss of Kohli.

Du Plessis, Maxwell and Kohli have been doing most of the scoring for the RCB, who badly seemed to miss the injured Rajat Patidar. Much of the runs this season stemmed from the blades of this trio. When they fail, Bangalore collapse. There’s no lower middle order. That’s RCB’s Achilles heel.