RR royals

After a dream start to the eighth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Rajasthan Royals (RR) lost their momentum midway. Cruising after winning their first five matches, they somehow managed to make it to the playoffs but eventually got eliminated after a dismal show against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the first eliminator at Pune on Wednesday.

Suraj Choudhari points out five factors on why RR fumbled in a decisive match against RCB.

1. Heavily reliant on Shane Watson

Watson seemed to have struck form at the right time. His hundred against Kolkata Knight Riders in their last league match saw them triumph in the crucial encounter. On the big day, while chasing a massive total, RR heavily relied on Watson to bail them out. The Australian all-rounder had an off game and fell for 10. A poor start at hurt them badly.


2. Lacked variety in bowling

Twenty20 is a batsman’s game where they look for every opportunity to dominate the bowler. Variations in bowling is the way to succeed. RR chose to go with Stuart Binny, who didn’t add much to the side throughout the tournament. Binny added to their list of medium pacer all-rounder and they lacked variations in bowling. Leg-spin bowler Pravin Tambe or slow bowler Rajat Bhatia would have been much more effective with their variations. The lack of variations led them conceding 180 runs. Spinners from both the camps – Ankit Sharma and Yuzvendra Chahal – proved economical with the ball.


3. No strategy against AB de Villiers and RR lost the garnered momentum

It’s a difficult job to plan against AB de Villiers and even tougher to execute it. RR got to a solid start as the dangerous Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli were sent back early but they just allowed de Villiers to get going. They seemed to have no plan for him. When the partnership between de Villiers and Mandeep Singh began to gain momentum, the RR pressed the panic button. The batsmen easily converted singles into twos and potential dot-balls into cheeky singles. RCB who were 88 for two in 13 overs, scored 92 from their last seven overs.


4. Failure of domestic talent in the batting order

RR is a side that invests in youth. It began well for them with the likes of Deepak Hooda rising to the occasion but as the tournament progressed, it was only an Ajinkya Rahane show. Hooda, Sanju Samson and Karun Nair, weren’t consistent throughout the tournament and once again when it mattered they couldn’t provide any support to Rahane. Also, Binny wasn’t utilised well throughout the tournament. This batting failure is the chief reason for their 71-run defeat on Wednesday night.


5. Indifferent form of World Champions: Steve Smith and James Faulkner

Smith and Faulkner were the most pivotal reasons behind Australia’s domination over the World recently. The two young Aussies played major roles as the country won the World Cup for a record fifth time. They continued their good form in the initial stages of IPL but as the tournament progressed, their form deteriorated. Despite of poor form, the management continued showing faith in them and hoped that they will perform at the big stage but that didn’t happen. Smith went cheaply and Faulkner couldn’t contribute with bat or ball.

(Suraj Choudhari, an avid cricket follower who plays the sport at club level, is a staffer with Criclife)

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