Royal Challengers Bangalore: Tangled in the race to playoffs

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As IPL 2022 has entered its business end, the competition for the top four positions in the points table and a berth in the playoffs is getting intense. Royal Challengers Bangalore are currently at fifth in the points table and will need to win their remaining games while relying on other results.

Royal Challengers Bangalore have played every season of the Indian Premier League since its inception but never won the title. They have been the finalists of the tournament on three occasions but missed the opportunity to lift silverware every time. Some of the superstars of the shortest format like Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, and Shane Watson have played for the team. However, the lack of success for the franchise despite the presence of some of the notable players of world cricket has earned them a tag of ‘underachievers’. 

The fans of the team always cheer their team for a shot at the title but they are still waiting to see their team lifting the coveted trophy and the players jumping in joy to celebrate their success. A change of guard in captaincy before the start of the season meant that the team was hoping for a change of fortunes. However, with one last game to go, they are stuck badly in the race to playoffs. Only their victory won’t ensure a berth in the playoffs but the team will have to rely on the other results to proceed in the tournament. 

RCB’s journey has been an interesting one so far as they have blown hot and cold this edition. They lost their first game of the tournament but won three on a trot. Just when the team was emerging as a strong force, a loss broke their winning streak. Two wins, three defeats, two wins, and a loss sum up their remaining journey.  This pattern shows that there hasn’t been consistent with the form of the team. They are one of the most unpredictable sides in the tournament so far and a dominating win in their last league game might see them through to the playoffs and eventually trophy. 

The main issue with the team has been the performance of the top three batters. Virat Kohli has been going through the worst period of his career and he has been not contributing with the bat. Kohli has scored only 236 runs from 13 matches in IPL 2022 at 19.67. When Faf du Plessis was handed the leadership of the team, he was expected to score runs in bulk. Although, the batter has a good record with 399 runs at 33.25 and a strike rate of 132.56 it doesn’t match with the reputation he has got over the years. 

Anuj Rawat opened for the team in the first few games but he wasn’t able to score runs consistently. Rajat Patidar seems to be a fine bloke with his batting technique and is playing good knocks in recent games. Another reason they got into this tangle was their retention, Mohammed Siraj who has been below par so far this season. Siraj, who is usually known to take wickets with new balls and also impressed with his fiery yorker in slog overs last year.  

Harshal Patel has regained his form in the last couple of matches but still is not taking wickets at the same rate as the previous season. In IPL 2021, Harshal scalped 32 wickets from 15 matches while he has picked 18 from 12 games this season. 

The team have some quality players in their lineup as usual but the main thing for the squad will be the collective performance of these players. The tournament has entered its business end and the competition to book a berth in the playoffs is getting intense. The onus to lead the team from the front with his batting will be on Faf du Plessis in the last league game and playoffs if they move ahead in the tournament. He will have to play a captain's knock as their batting order lacks the experience to some extent. 

RCB will face Gujarat Titans in a crucial game on Thursday and the match will be a must-win for the team. A defeat will knock them out of the tournament and so they should give their best. Not only do they need to win the game but they also rely on the result of the game between the Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals. RCB will hope for a loss of the Delhi Capitals or will need them to win with a small margin to advance into the tournament on basis of net run rate. 

To take themselves out of such a tricky situation, the top order should score a plethora of runs. Faf Du Plessis should give a solid performance with the bat and Wanindu Hasaranga will be the key bowler of the team. The pitches are getting drier in the tournament and so Hasaranga might be able to trouble batters with his variations. The race to the playoffs of the IPL 2022 is getting intense and it is so interesting to see that the situation is boiling down to the last match.

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