RCB batting keeps fans on the edge, says Harsha Bhogle

NEW DELHI: The famed batting line-up of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) brings a sense of excitement among their fans, with the likes of skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in their ranks. But cricket expert Harsha Bhogle believes that “being a fan of Bangalore comes with a warning”.
“While they provide great value and entertainment for cricket lovers, being a fan of Bangalore comes with a warning; it is not for the faint-hearted. With the incandescence of Kohli and AB, and the guile of (Yuzvendra) Chahal, they are always a team you want to watch, but the occasional meltdown means the fans are always on the edge of their seats,” Bhogle wrote in his column for Timesofindia.com.
RCB are currently third on the IPL-13 points table with three wins and two defeats from their five matches so far.
“They have played five games this year and while that is not enough to search for patterns, it is a decent number to propose a hypothesis,” the expert-cum-commentator added, before making a special mention about opener Devdutt Padikkal.

“This year Bangalore, very rightly, focussed on getting a good opening partnership to ease the pressure on Kohli and de Villiers and in Padikkal they have showcased a fine talent. But if you notice, teams that are doing well bat deep and have a fairly consistent batting order. And I am beginning to wonder that while the emphasis on the engine room of the top four batsmen is still a valid factor, whether we need to look at the role of a reliable, dominant number 5 and 6,” Bhogle further wrote.
To highlight his point, he gave the examples of Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians, who have the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Marcus Stoinis, Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard to give a power-packed depth to their team’s batting line-up.
“Like everyone else, I have been very impressed by the manner in which Delhi have played. With Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer, they have been very positive at the start but they have also benefitted from the power of Marcus Stoinis and the contributions of Rishabh Pant. Stoinis is the key here. At number five, or even six, he is turning matches around but this reliability is allowing the top order to bat with freedom.

“Teams need to be fine with being 4 down after 15 overs, a side effect of being very positive early on; but they will only (be fine) if they know there is some power to follow and Stoinis is doing that. It is similar with Hardik Pandya and, especially, Kieron Pollard for Mumbai,” he opined.
He rounded it off by stressing upon the fact that the likes of Kohli and De Villiers need “assurance” from those batting below them in order to play with “freedom”.
“Coming back to Bangalore, if Moeen Ali and Shivam Dube and Chris Morris, when he becomes available, provide that kind of assurance, Kohli can play with far greater freedom. I got the impression that he held himself back too long against Delhi because he probably wasn’t too sure of numbers five, six and seven,” Bhogle concluded.

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