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Royal Challengers Bengaluru players celebrate the wicket of Travis Head of Sunrisers Hyderabad during Match 30 on Monday. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Dubai: For Royal Challengers Bengaluru it’s the same old story that has been plaguing for the last 17 Seasons of the Indian Premier League. This year, if there was any hope that the name change would bring better luck, the team management has been completely off the mark, similar to their team selection over the years.

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The management change prior to the renaming of the team, with former Zimbabwe skipper Andy Flower replacing Mike Hesson and the entire coaching staff, has only complicated the matters, fanning the fans ire so much so that a miffed Indian tennis legend Mahesh Bhupathi wanted the Indian board to enforce a sale of this underperforming Bengaluru to new owners. A Bengalurian by heart, Bhupathi’s post on social media is akin to the millions similar voices of the Royal Challengers fans.

The mauling by Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday only allowed the dissent grow louder. The Hyderabad team rewrote their own record in IPL by scoring 287 for 3 in 20 overs. Adding to their woes is the announcement by Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who will be taking an indefinite “mental and physical break” from IPL after struggling for form. Another Australian all-rounder Cameroon Green, who was roped in during the off-season trade off from Mumbai Indians for a staggering Rs175 million, has not been able to live up to the expectations and has scored a total of 68 runs in five innings with a highest of 33.

Virtual second string

Bengaluru benched all their star players against Hyderabad that includes Green, Maxwell, who later said that he wanted to step aside and had requested skipper Faf Du Plessis and coach Flower to give someone the chance, India’s pacer ace Mohammed Siraj, who has been having a poor run this season, and West Indian pacer Alzarri Joseph. Their combined net worth in this auction is Rs470 million.

The virtual second string bowling was put to the sword by the Hyderabad batters and while chasing such a big total, the popular opinion among the fans and pundits alike was that, it was the perfect stage for Maxwell to make a statement and return to his best. The 35-year-old single-handedly led Australia to an improbable victory against Afghanistan in the 50-over World Cup in India with a double century.

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Glenn Maxwell addressing a press conference after losing the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Bengaluru on Monday, Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

“I think now is actually a good time for me to give myself a bit of a mental and physical break, get my body right. I went to Faf and the coaches after the last game and said I felt it was probably time we tried someone else,” Maxwell told a press conference after the 25-run defeat on Monday. “I have been in this situation in the past where you can keep playing and get yourself deeper into a hole.

“If I’m required to get in during the tournament, I can, hopefully, get back into a really solid mental and physical space where I can still have an impact.”

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Maxwell’s statement doesn’t speak high about the team environment. It is the role of the skipper to bring out the best from a player and give him the confidence and show the patience to help him come out of the lean patch.

Giving the right backing to players

Ruturaj Gaikwad had a forgetful debut season for Chennai Super Kings, but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the team management had full faith in the player’s abilities and persisted with him, giving as much chance as possible. Now Gaikwad is leading the five-time champions this season.

Faf du Plessis, having played many years under Captain Cool in Chennai and having seen the rise of Gaikwad, has not taken a leaf out Dhoni’s book. Constant chopping and changing of the team will not allow the players to settle down and in turn will not be able to find the right combination. May be one or two positions could be altered according to the pitch and conditions, if it is absolutely necessary. However, so far this season, Bengaluru have not retained the same team for a single game. The result shows as they have lost six out of seven games. It’s OK to test various combinations in the first three games, but Bengaluru have not retained the same team even after a win.

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Virat Kohli has been waging a lone battle for Bengaluru for many years now. Image Credit: AFP

What ails Bengaluru?

The Royal Challengers, who were led by Virat Kohli, has had some of the best players in the Twenty20 format, but the team historically have been heavily reliant on the batters. The current mantra in world cricket and more so in Twenty20 is “batters win you matches, but bowlers win you trophies.” The bowling department has always been the Achilles heel for Bengaluru. They had some good bowlers but as a bowling unit, they were found wanting. The loss of Yuzvendra Chahal to Rajasthan Royals has only compounded their woes. In the last auction, they offloaded leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and brought in left-arm pacer Yash Dayal, a strange choice. The team management has erred big on their picks in the auction.

To win IPL, the strength of the Indian players is paramount. In the current Bengaluru team, excepting Kohli, who still continues to score runs and is the holder of the Orange Cap for the top run-scorers this season, and Siraj are the only two current Indian players in the team. Rajat Patidar, who made his Test debut against England, is in miserable form and with several players yet to earn their India caps, the lack of experience is proving difficult for the current management to plug too many holes that is sinking their ship.

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Lockie Ferguson reacts after being hit for a six by Sunrisers Hyderabad. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Lack of spinners

Traditionally, the second leg of the IPL is dominated by the spinners and Bengaluru don’t have one good weapon in their armoury. Karn Sharma, who has past his prime, is the specialist spinner along with Mayank Dagar. But both spinners have been dropped in the last few games!

Still all is not lost and if Bengaluru win all their seven games, they could qualify for the Play-offs, but before that skipper Faf and coach Flower need to have a talk and win the trust of the players and boost their confidence, which must at the lowest. Only then it will be possible, otherwise they could start charting out their picks for the mega auction next season.