Hampered by injuries and poor form, Royal Challengers Bangalore finished with the wooden spoon in the Indian Premier League 2017. The fans came through the turnstiles match after match, but there was little on offer from the last season’s finalists. The new drainage system at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium led to slower surfaces for home games, arresting Bangalore’s attacking style of play. Daniel Vettori, the coach, admitted that the core group had failed to provide the base for them to deliver as a unit.
“In the last two years, we started poorly, but were able to rectify it,” Vettori said after Bangalore were restricted to 96 for 9 in a chase of 158 against Rising Pune Supergiant. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to do it this time.”
The standout moment
Bangalore’s standout moment came in the game against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot, where Chris Gayle became the first batsman to make 10,000 Twenty20 runs. There were phases in different games that must have given their fans hope. Kedar Jadhav’s counterattacking 69 in their second game against Delhi Daredevils, and the way they defended 157 and 161 against Delhi for two of their three wins this season, were the definite highlights. The other takeaway was the way they fought to defend 142 against Mumbai Indians at home before losing by four wickets. Samuel Badree’s hat-trick on his franchise debut headlined that performance.
What did not work
Nothing, is the short answer. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers were not available for the first few games, and KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan were ruled out completely. Four big jolts forced them to try out different combinations, but no one took up the responsibility of finishing games. Kohli returned from the fifth match, but was not always completely switched on even if he was the only one to cross the 300-run mark. Being bowled out in Kolkata for 49 – the lowest-ever total in IPL history– in a chase of 132 summed up Bangalore’s season.
Bought for Rs 8.5 crore by Delhi in 2016, Pawan Negi failed to deliver and was released. Free of the pressure, he made good use of his opportunities at Bangalore, where he got good guidance from Vettori. Having good variations both in the air and off the surface, he bowled the final overs in the two wins against Delhi, and played crucial knocks with the bat more often than not. While his economy of 6.12 is the best among the season’s top ten bowlers, his strike-rate of 12 is the next best behind Jaydev Unadkat’s 10.8.
Mandeep Singh and Kedar Jadhav did not live up to their expectations, but Gayle was the biggest disappointment. Clearly on the wane, Gayle, 37, played just nine games for 200 runs. Expected to give the team rapid starts, he could hit only 14 sixes – still the second-most by a Bangalore batsman after AB de Villiers’s 16 – and had a strike-rate of 122.69 compared to career strike-rate of 148.92. The bowlers worked out his weaknesses, peppering him with pace and not bowling in his strong zone. He failed to improvise, resulting in one of his poorest seasons for the franchise.
Highest run-getter: Virat Kohli – 308 runs in 10 matches, strike-rate 122.22
Highest wicket-taker: Pawan Negi – 16 wickets in 12 matches, economy 6.12