The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), despite having lost their previous game, have had quite the season. The franchise made a good, steady start to IPL 2020 and managed five wins from their first eight games.
What this essentially means is that RCB needs just three more wins from their remaining six games to book their spot in the playoffs. Virat Kohli's squad, however, will be hoping for more than that, and will essentially want to finish the league stage as one of the top two teams in the points table.
This year, RCB has looked a more balanced side when compared to previous seasons. With that being said, their last clash against the Kings XI Punjab did raise certain questions about their game plan.
If the Challengers are to avoid a disastrous second half of the tournament, here are some of the questions that they will need to answer.
#1) Is Aaron Finch on his way out of the XI?
To say the least, Aaron Finch has not looked himself ever since his first game for RCB this season. In eight games, the Australian T20I captain has managed to score just 191 runs, with a lone half-century to his name.
That, however, is not the stat that will be worrying the RCB think-tank. Finch may not have gotten the runs that the team wanted, but what's more alarming is his strike-rate, which stands at a frail 113.7.
Generally known to be an explosive batsman, the Australian opener has not hit his form and has cost RCB many dot balls. As a result, we see him trying too hard to change his game and trying to attack when there isn't a shot, sometimes shimmying down the pitch too early.
As the IPL enters the business end of the tournament, RCB, who have given Finch a long rope, might have to reconsider the Australian's place in the starting XI. If Finch is on his way out of the playing eleven, we could well see the skipper reclaim the opening spot, where he's found the most success in the IPL.
#2) Does AB de Villiers' have a permanent batting position or is he a floater?
AB de Villiers has normally walked in to bat at the #3 or #4 spot for RCB, having produced staggering numbers to go along with a monstrous strike rate.
Everyone was surprised during the game against Punjab when it wasn't AB de Villiers who walked out after the fall of the second wicket, especially after the show he put on against KKR. Instead, it was Washington Sundar who took guard.
Skipper Kohli, at the post-match presentation, stated that RCB intended to navigate the threat of the leg-spinners by keeping a left-right combination going. However, when we look at the facts, there were 8 overs left to be bowled by leg-spinners - which is 40% of the innings
Granted, de Villiers does have an added workload as a wicketkeeper, and given his age, the team might want to find ways to manage that workload. However, RCB needs to think about whether Mr. 360 is their #4 batsman or whether he is their finisher who comes in during the death overs.
#3) Where does Washington Sundar bowl?
Washington Sundar has proven to be a real asset to RCB this year, having bowled miserly spells in the powerplay overs and also producing wickets from time to time.
However, the degree to which the skipper has trusted him to bowl in the powerplay overs has varied from game to game. Some games saw Sundar bowling 2-3 overs in the powerplay, while others saw him bowling just one over.
In the game against KXIP, Sundar did not get to bowl a single over in the first six overs of the game.
If the reasoning behind this decision was that both of Punjab's openers were right-handers, it could be argued that this was the case against KKR (Tom Banton and Shubhman Gill). Sundar managed to keep KKR in check, and one would assume that he would use the confidence from that game to do the same against Punjab.
The lack of certainty around where Sundar bowls his overs needs to be addressed by RCB mainly because he has been one of the main reasons for their success this year. Continued uncertainty about Sundar's powerplay prowess could impact the team negatively as they move forward in the tournament.Published 16 Oct 2020, 16:36 IST