"Catches win matches" is an adage as old as cricket itself. But Royal Challengers Bangalore have been so badly battered and bruised this season that for their supporters the only maxim that holds good is "bowling wins matches".
No team of professional cricketers has ever let down its supporters more cruelly than the RCB bowlers. Their sin was not bad bowling. Rather it was one of appalling indiscipline, that frittered away all the advantage posting such a huge total may have had. The total was so huge that at the innings break, RCB skipper Virat Kohli said he'd actually have been satisfied with 165. However, thanks to his stupendous batting and the excellent support he received from KL Rahul, RCB actually ended up with a seemingly impregnable 180.
But, shamefully, the RCB bowling was downright indisciplined. The question that begged an answer was: How on earth can a team of professional bowlers end up bowling so many wides and no balls at critical times?
To put it in perspective, RCB sent down two no-balls and nine wides, against just two wides sent down by Gujarat Lions. More precisely, Yuzvendra Chahal, who bowled his four overs for 33 runs, conceded 11 of those runs off a single ball! He overstepped in the third over of the innings and opener Dwayne Smith heard the no-ball call in time to slam it to square leg for a boundary. Off the free hit he blasted a six to dent a big hole in RCB’s opening overs.
Two overs later, Kane Richardson bowled a nightmare over. He took the wicket of Smith, but then bowled a horrendous wide that was docked five runs. The next ball was deposited in the stands by Brendon McCullum. Thus, Richardson too had given away 11 runs from one accounted-for ball. The pacer gave away 25 runs in that sixth over (5, 6, 4, 6, 4) as Gujarat Lions notched up the highest PowerPlay score this season (72/1). Just the two deliveries, one each from Chahal and Richardson respectively, had cost the team a whopping 22 runs.
Of course, it is widely accepted that RCB has one of the weakest bowling attacks in the IPL. Nobody really expected them to run through batting teams. But the least RCB supporters would have expected was to see some disciplined effort from them. Instead, they got to see no-balls and wides delivered and these wayward deliveries were really the difference between victory and defeat.
Even in the final over, with GL needing seven runs, Shane Watson bowled a wide and a no-ball to ease the pressure off the batting team. RCB's bowlers will have to think long and hard about the damage they are doing to the team. If they cannot take wickets or restrict runs, the least their supporters and batsmen expect of them is a lot more professionalism. On Sunday, they just gifted away a match with their plethora of no-balls and wides.
This was a crying shame after Kohli had batted brilliantly on a pitch not really suited for stroke-play. He opted to bat first in the belief that batting would get progressively more difficult on this pitch.
KL Rahul, who was not in the playing XI when the captains exchanged lists, was allowed to replace Mandeep Singh who split the web of his hand in practice after the toss. Rahul (51 no, 35b 4x4, 3x6) celebrated his late, unusual inclusion with a splendid 121-run unbroken third wicket partnership with Kohli (100 no, 63b, 11x4 1x6). It was Kohli’s maiden T20 century and he made no bones of the fact that he cherished it. But what should have been an ecstatic day for him turned bitter as his bowlers failed to appreciate the hard work and toil put in and salted away the match with their no-balls and wides.
There will be other wins and losses for RCB this season. However, this was one horrendous display that their motley crew of bowlers will never live down.
And finally, after five matches, the time has come to wonder why Stuart Binny is being picked in this side if he is not to be trusted either with batting or bowling.