NEW DELHI: Royal Challengers Bangalore are hopeful that a run of four straight home games would help them resurrect their IPL campaign which has been off to an underwhelming start. Having played four matches so far, the three-time runners-up have recorded just one win and lost the remaining three.
In his column for The Times of India, RCB star batsman AB de Villiers acknowledges that the franchise is under pressure to deliver but believes that the team should continue to back itself up and not get bogged down by the criticism coming its way. “Five matches into a new season that started with such high hopes, this is not where we expected to be. Winning one and losing four falls way below our expectations,” he wrote. “Under pressure, the temptation is always to panic and to start doubting each other. I am certain that, under the steady and intelligent guidance of coach Dan Vittori, this RCB group is strong enough to find our way through this period and get back into contention at the top of the table.”
In the coming 10 days, RCB embark on a stretch of four home games at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium where they will face Delhi Daredevils (April 21), Chennai Super Kings (April 25), Kolkata Knight Riders (April 29) and Mumbai Indians (May 1). De Villiers points out this will work in their favour as a couple of wins will be enough for them to gain the momentum.
“Our next four games will all be played in front of our home supporters at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and this burst of matches over the next ten days presents us with an ideal opportunity to revive our campaign. Win one, win two… confidence grows…,” De Villiers wrote.
RCB are a team that have always been regarded as batting-heavy. However, during a press conference earlier this season, their captain Virat Kohli had said in IPL 11, it’s their bowling which will be a pleasant surprise. But so far, it hasn’t been the case. Twice they have conceded more than 200 runs and in their last game, they allowed defending champions Mumbai Indians to run away with the match having reduced them to 0/2 off the very first two deliveries of the match.
“Defeat in Mumbai on Sunday was disappointing, especially after Umesh Yadav took two MI wickets with the first two balls of the match. Rohit Sharma proceeded to play an extraordinary innings, taking his team to an imposing total of 213; for us, in the extreme humidity, it was both mentally and physically draining to see the home side recover. Maybe this lack of energy was evident in our run chase, although it must be said that Kohli, our captain, played a fantastic innings in real adversity; he is hitting the ball really well and that obviously augers well for our revival,” De Villiers observed.
He has, however, defended his team’s composition saying what they are lacking is rhythm. “Pundits have inevitably started to question the composition of our squad, with the familiar refrain that our team is top heavy with batsmen. I don’t agree. In my view, our recruitment was spot on and we have assembled a well balanced squad capable of performing consistently well in what, as I’ve said, is an ever stronger competition.
“In times like this it becomes important to focus on regaining rhythm… rhythm in following our bowling plans, rhythm in our batting and rhythm in our fielding. This process starts in training and follows into matches.”
On Saturday, RCB will host Delhi Daredevils, a team which has also been able to win just once out of their four matches so far and are at the bottom of the points tally – a rung below RCB. “Delhi Daredevils will be the visitors to Bengaluru on Friday, and they also find themselves at the wrong end of the table one third of the way through the tournament. It will be a tough match, but, by concentrating on the basics, by keeping faith both with our strategy and each other, we can start to turn the season around and deliver to the RCB supporters all around the country the success that they have so long craved and so richly deserve,” De Villiers said.