Chris Gayle looked in good touch during his brief stay in the game against Kings XI Punjab in IPL 7 © IANS (File Photo)
The Royal Challenges Bangalore line-up may be full of big names, but it is the little-known players who have been doing well for them in Indian Premier League (IPL) 7. Shiamak Unwalla analyses how the celebrated big names of the side have been thoroughly overshadowed by the unheralded youngsters.
The Bangalore line-up reads like the first half of an ICC World XI: Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Yuvraj Singh and Muttiah Muralitharan. If results were decided on the basis of the team we see on paper, Bangalore would walk away as champions nine times out of 10. And yet, somehow, these fabled names have not quite lived up to their obvious aptitude. To be fair to Gayle, he has played just one game, and if that innings was a foreshadowing of things to come, Bangalore will be very happy campers at the moment. He came, he didn’t bother seeing, he conquered for six glorious deliveries, and then he left. They will be hoping that he will conquer more peaks rather than leave the crease after facing a few deliveries.
Apart from Gayle, the mainstays of the Bangalore batting — Kohli and de Villiers — have been huge let-downs this year. Kohli has scores of 49 not out, zero, 31, 21, and four at an average of 21. As for de Villiers, his stats are even worse: 45 not out, 11, zero, and 17 at an average of 18.25. For batsmen of their stature, these numbers are hugely disappointing. Yuvraj, who was grossly out of form in the ICC World T20 2014, has actually been the most successful of the big names (sadly that isn’t saying very much). He has scores of 52 not out, zero, 31, three, and 35 at an average of 25.2. Sri Lankan legend, Muralitharan, played just one game, but with figures of 2-0-25-0, it doesn’t seem likely that he will play again this year.
On the other hand, the diminutive Parthiv Patel has racked up scores of 37, 57, 21, one and two at an average of 23.6, which is higher than both Kohli and de Villiers. However, the real saving grace for Bangalore has been its relatively unheralded bowling attack. Yuzvendra Chahal, with seven wickets at an economy rate of just 5.05, has been a revelation with his shrewd leg-breaks. Varun Aaron has looked a different bowler altogether than the one who sprayed the ball all over the place in the Asia Cup 2014, with eight wickets at an enviable economy rate of 5.6. After going for plenty in Bangalore’s first match of the season, Ashok Dinda has disproven his many detractors to put in some fine performances as well. Mitchell Starc, with seven wickets at an economy rate of 6.55, has led the attack well and bowled some noteworthy spells. And let’s not forget the two spectacular catches he took against Kings XI Punjab either.
The bric-a-brac players are putting in the miles for the Bangalore setup. It is all up to the big guns to start firing now. One feels that with the return of their talismanic ‘Gayle-Storm,’ the entire side will be charged up. If Kohli, de Villiers and Yuvraj can start firing at even half their full potential, Bangalore will have enough ammunition to blast apart any side at their best. Playing at the familiar M Chinnaswamy stadium in front of their adoring fans might be just what the doctor ordered for the juggernauts from the Garden city of India.
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(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)