From left: Ravi Rampaul, Muttiah Muralitharan and Mitchell Starc are RCB’s foreign bowling contingent © IANS & Getty Images
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will look to make a strong start to their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 campaign with a win in their first game against Delhi Daredevils (DD). However, for that to happen, they need their bowlers to up their game and produce a well-oiled effort. Bharath Ramaraj analyses Bangalore’s bowling line-up.
The short history of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL has been littered with splendored performances by the Jamaican bludgeoner, Chris Gayle. He isn’t one of those who bats with transcendental elegance that leaves everyone gasping for breath. But has lorded over bowlers by ripping them apart with his power-hitting.
Unfortunately, in the bowling department, they have struggled to find a fulcrum on whom they can rely upon during times of crisis. As Bangalore take on a fine Delhi Daredevils unit in their first game of IPL 2014, they need to strike the right balance to engineer a triumph against the opposition ranks.
When we look at RCB’s squad for IPL 7, the first name in the bowling department that flashes across one’s mind is Ravi Rampaul. He has that indefatigable energy to zip through the crease and hit the bat hard. He has struggled with injuries and has been in and out of the West Indian setup, but certainly a vital cog in the RCB line-up. Contrary to what many think, he isn’t one of those who can generate prodigious swing or seam movement. However, he moves it in the air or off the pitch just enough to trouble the batsmen.
Mitchell Starc comes across as a strong contender to be the partner-in-crime for Rampaul with the new ball. He generally tails it into the right-handed batsman with a white new ball and in the end overs, can bowl yorkers at good pace from around the wicket. More importantly, he is a left-armer. It is a boon to have a fine left-arm pacer who can swing it both ways from over the wicket in the abridged versions of the game.
RCB’s spinners include the experienced campaigner, Shadab Jakati, Yuzvendra Chahal and the legend himself, Muttiah Muralitharan. With only four foreign players allowed, it may come down to selecting one out of Muralitharan and Starc/Rampaul. Muralitharan is an all-time great of the game, but Starc provides RCB with variety. It is time that they go for the jugular and plump for Starc over Muralitharan.
It means that one is left with Jakati and Chahal as the spinners. Jakati is a steady slow left-arm spinner who looks to attack the stumps by bowling quicker through the air with the variation off the track helping him to straighten the odd delivery. Chahal is a leg-break/googly bowler. He has a fine List A and Twenty20 (T20) record, but playing in a tournament like the IPL, is a different matter altogether. It has to be said though, most modern-day batsmen struggle to pick the googly and if Chahal gets his that delivery right, he may land a few telling blows on the opposition.
Yuvraj Singh, who struggled for form in the ICC World T20 2014, has to step up to the plate and bowl well as the fifth bowler in the line-up. Gayle with his off-spinners is another option to fill the fifth bowler’s slot, but he has hardly bowled in recent times. Virat Kohli, the captain of the setup, can bowl an occasional over or two of his right-arm mediums.
If we look at RCB’s attack through the lens of numbers, they perhaps lack another experienced Indian spinner. Muralitharan is there in the squad, but with only four foreign players allowed, it can sometimes become difficult to pick him. In short, from being hapless conquistadors, RCB’s bowlers have to rise to the challenge for them to script a memorable win in their first game of IPL 7.
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(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)