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How RCB's failure proved that strike rate is not 'overrated' in T20 cricket

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Virat Kohli opened the innings for Banglore against Hyderabad

@IPL

How RCB's failure proved that strike rate is not 'overrated' in T20 cricket

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Deepak Yadav

11/08/2020

RCB even with the most consistent of players in Kohli and de Villiers are the most inconsistent of franchises, failing to win the tournament even once but it all lies down to their ‘little’ firepower approach. Play Bold is a nice tagline but RCB using that tagline has done no real justice.

Bangalore’s run this IPL has been nothing short of a rollercoaster journey, where they have gone from one of the most in-form teams to one of the worst-performing teams towards the end of the tournament. Such has been their inconsistency that they managed to look like the best team and the worst team of the tournament in the span of 15 matches. However, this is nothing new, and they have been like that since the start, hence, their exit from the tournament this time around didn’t even feel like an odd event. 

Expectedly, they crumbled under pressure and could score just 131 runs in the Eliminator, which they did try hard to defend, but there weren't enough runs on the board to put pressure on Hyderabad. Eventually, Hyderabad won the match by 6 wickets and finished RCB’s another trophyless season. Winning and losing is part of the game but if the game is not contested between equal teams, it fails to deliver the magic of good match experience, which was exactly how RCB’s second half of the season went, they never challenged sides!

The worst part is Bangalore, being such a seasoned side, always made the same mistake, falling head over heels with their approach only to crash. They started their season with Aaron Finch opening the innings with Devdutt Padikkal, but since Finch had a slump - all their explosive power at the top was gone and they were left with Padikkal and Virat Kohli in the powerplay. That is precisely where their season tumbled, an approach of a strike-rate of 120 was never going to be enough in the middle-overs, especially at the rate with which the format is evolving and was neither solved by Josh Philippe, who was later brought in. 

It is no rocket science to know that since the team didn’t have a good start, and the two players at the crease are not that explosive, the innings is and will never pick up the pace any time. Add to that the fact that both of them have scored over 450+ runs this season, meaning they have played out most of the deliveries for the franchise. After this, there can be only two ways this innings can get to a good total - either the RCB pair finishes off the game with their out of character explosive innings at the end, or the incoming batsmen starts connecting from the first ball itself. 

However, both of these scenarios are highly unlikely to happen all the time as out of character innings are rare and even AB de Villiers needs some time to set his eye in, especially in the UAE, where conditions are tough for new batsmen who walk in. On the occasions where de Villiers plays an extraordinary innings, they get saved but he cannot score runs in every match and shouldn’t either, because it is a team-goddamn sport. JEEZ! GIVE THE MAN A BREAK. Among the multiple times that he saved Bangalore this season, one was against Rajasthan, where he had to drag the victory by scoring at an SR of 250+. 

The South African batsman also has rare failures - after all, he is human - and when that happens Bangalore fail to put up a show, which was quite evident in the last match against CSK, where they couldn’t get to a par score even after Kohli getting a 50. De Villiers scored 39 runs off 36 balls, and with his lacklustre display RCB’s faith was already sealed even before CSK’s batsmen walked out.  

After the South African, comes in Shivam Dube who has been effective in a few matches but has largely failed to turn any eyes, scoring just 129 runs at a SR of 122.85, is he a finisher, would they trust him to finish the job? Nah! How isn’t this a recipe for disaster? Punjab too faced a similar problem, where KL Rahul scored runs in plenty - their impact was reduced, with his low strike-rate. For Punjab, Nicholas Pooran was given the responsibility to accelerate and get the team to a good total, which has worked in their favour, at times to say the least. The problem seems bigger with RCB because they have a weaker middle-order than KXIP. Delhi too are on a similar path, where Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant’s strike rate of 109 and 120 respectively, have lost the momentum for their team, hoping the lower middle order to rescue them every single time. 

Compare this to a top team like Mumbai Indians, who have all their top four scoring at a SR close to 150 - which is then followed by brutal smashing from Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard. How is that for a batting lineup? The stark difference between the quality of teams is indicative of the fact that the strike rate is very important in T20 cricket. All the teams that have performed well have been the ones with a high strike rate and not multiple consolidators of just runs. At the end of the day, T20 cricket is all about making an impact, be it with high-scores or scores at a steady pace, where there can be no compromise over the total runs in the end. 

With a top 3 that Bangalore has, it only makes it harder for themselves to make an impact, striking the ball at a strike-rate of 120. However, there is no point scoring hundreds of runs if the team is losing, would you rather have a KL Rahul-like season or a Suryakumar Yadav-like season? The impactful runs are the ones which change the course of the game, contrasting to the bundles of runs that Bangalore players are scoring, which has done more bad to them than good. They will have to figure out a way to increase their rate of scoring or else they can have all the high scoring awards without the IPL trophy. 

The issue is not Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers or even an inexperienced Devdutt Padikkal but their main weakness is not able to upgrade their cricket, in terms of striking the ball when the situation demands them to, leaving them always short of runs and plenty to do with the ball. 

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