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With Chris Gayle and Nic Maddinson out with injuries and Muttiah Muralitharan clearly past his prime, the Royal Challengers Bangalore are struggling to field four overseas players. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the dearth of quality overseas players in the squad.
With two wins and one loss in their first three games, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are currently at the third spot in the points table of Indian Premier League (IPL) 7. While their batting has looked reasonably good, barring their collective brain-freeze in the last game, it has been their bowling attack that has really impressed. Yuzvendra Chahal and Varun Aaron have been the surprise performers for RCB, and they have been backed up well by Mitchell Starc, Albie Morkel and to some extent, Ashok Dinda.
And yet, their match against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) showed just how vulnerable they can be when tested. With their juggernaut Chris Gayle still unfit and newbie, Nic Maddinson injured, RCB made a few forced changes and brought in Muralitharan. In the two overs that he bowled, he was mauled for 25 runs by Chris Lynn and company. One match may not be enough to go on, but Muralitharan looked a pale shade of his former self. The variations and the sharp turn that used to be hallmarks of his bowling were non-existent in those two overs. It looks unlikely that he will get another game based on this performance.
And here comes the tricky part: With Gayle and Maddinson injured and Muralitharan in poor form, RCB are left with only AB de Villiers, Starc, Morkel, and Ravi Rampaul to field as their four foreigners. This scenario is far from ideal. While de Villiers, who is always a great cricketer to have in any team, and Starc, who has bowled quite well, are automatic selections in the playing XI, Morkel and Rampaul are not. In fact, Morkel’s recent form has been less than impressive. In his last ten competitive matches. Morkel has taken a mere four wickets and has a highest score of 27 not out. Rampaul hasn’t had much match practice in recent times, having played his last competitive game on March 19.
On the other hand, teams like Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have sufficient foreign bench strength that in the event of an injury to one of their players, a ready substitute is available. Indeed, even with an injury to Dwayne Bravo, CSK have managed to win three games on the trot. They have players like Matt Henry, John Hastings and Samuel Badree waiting in the wings for a chance to prove their abilities, while KKR have Ryan ten Doeschate, Pat Cummins and Andre Russell who would be itching for a few games.
Perhaps. it is a consequence of paying INR 14 crore for a single player, but RCB seem to have made some serious miscalculations when it comes to recruiting foreign players. They desperately need Gayle to return to give them a shot in the arm, and they will also need to find a replacement for Maddinson, who is likely to be out for the rest of the IPL. Can Gayle make a comeback soon, and if he does, can he turn his side’s fortunes? Going on his track record, no one will doubt this. RCB can only hope, and their fans can only wait with bated breath.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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