Faf, Bangar pinpoint what went wrong for RCB in IPL 2023
Familiar bowling woes may have ultimately come back to haunt the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their season-ending defeat to Gujarat Titans (GT) this Sunday (May 21) in IPL 2023, but skipper Faf du Plessis felt the real chink in the armoury was a non-performing, unsettled middle-order.
Du Plessis said the inability of batters outside their popular trio of him, Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell to stand up to the task throughout the season eventually held the famed RCB franchise back this time. Amidst question marks raised that they were perhaps 20 short even after posting 197/5 against the in-form Titans, Du Plessis said RCB once again lacked the impetus required in the middle and the end-overs phase.
Under the captain's scrutiny were their regular middle-order cogs: the experienced Dinesh Karthik, young allrounder Shahbaz Ahmed and the promising but unstabled Mahipal Lomror and Anuj Rawat. Karthik, whose struggles hogged the limelight, failed to replicate his tremendous IPL 2022 and made just 140 runs in 13 matches.
Lomror struck an impressive fifty versus the Delhi Capitals (DC) but finished with 135 runs in his 10 innings, while Rawat could muster only 91 across seven outings - reflecting a sorry tale of RCB's middle-order miseries that doubled down on the franchise along with their sustained bowling problems.
Du Plessis, Bangar lists out RCB's woes after IPL 2023 exit
"From a batting perspective, the top four contributed really well," ESPNcricinfo quoted Du Plessis as saying amidst a major gap in run-scoring and contribution form the top and the middle-order. "Maxi (Maxwell) was unbelievable. And then Virat and myself."
"But we were a little bit light on the middle order, to be honest. We missed a few runs from the middle order consistently throughout the season, especially in the back end of the innings, through a bit of power-hitting."
Du Plessis led his troops from the front despite approaching ever so closer to his forties, hitting eight fifties in the campaign to record 730 runs at a strike-rate of 153.68 and stand at the top of the runs chart. Kohli, Du Plessis' experienced opening partner, managed to finally regain his lost touch after three consecutive below-par seasons and smashed two centuries in his notable tally of 639 runs at 139.82. Backing those two was the ever-aggressive and impactful Maxwell with 400 runs at 183.48.
But those three combined to make a whopping 1,769 off the 2,502 runs made by the franchise in IPL 2023, with the rest producing a measly 733 in 14 innings. Du Plessis pointed this out in cricketing terms and insisted his side lacked "two strong hitters at five or six or six and seven to make sure the team get that impetus", marking this as an area for immediate improvement.
Batting coach Sanjay Bangar took the skipper's point forward and stressed that the top-order had to be a little wary at times before pushing on the accelerator since they knew that the men to follow aren't in the best of form. Bangar felt being cautious helped RCB maximise their scores in context of their middle-order muddle.
"It can be a factor. Once you lose a couple of wickets, if the batters are not in form... T20 is such a format that you don't have time to work back into form," he said at the post-match press conference.
"That may have had an effect. Maybe if our lower order was going strong and converting whatever fewer balls they had, we would have gotten 10-15 runs extra or maybe the top order would have played more fearlessly."
"Our batting in the powerplay and middle overs were excellent but our contributions in the last five overs in most games did hurt us a bit."