The road to the semis
What RCB needs to do to make it to the final four.
It was a tale that twisted between the two live chats at the game.
When Deepika Padukone came onto our website to talk about her fun side (read the full interview here), RCB was 178 in 19.5 overs. Cameron White then smashed the next ball for six to finish the innings on a high, and the target seemed defendable.
By the time Akhil Balachandra joined in for a live chat with the fans, narrating tales from off field sojourns in South Africa in IPL-2, the game was slowly but surely being taken away. Praveen Kumar's over went for 21 runs and as the chat ended, so did our hopes of a fourth win at home and a significant step towards a semi final slot.
We now find ourself in a tricky situation, not unlike RCB fans who've already bought tickets to the semi-finals, and need 3 wins out of the next 4 games to assure ourselves of a berth in the knockout stages.
The key , of course, is in getting the bowling combination to ensure that the number of boundaries raining from the opposition is inversely proportional to the ones being cracked by Uthappa and company. Or thereabouts.
In the last 4 matches we've lost, the final four overs have leaked 49, 46, 26 (good chase!) and 49 runs respectively. That's not good enough because other than the kind Kings, nobody's been keen to return the favour.
The key for the path ahead still lies in securing the two home wins against KKR and MI, and snatching another at Nagpur or Jaipur. Ideally, we can do with a ruthless three win week coming up and settle the dust, and I wouldn't be surprised if that were to happen too.
Coach Ray Jennings has often spoken about peaking at the right time, and it has now arrived.
The combination still might provide headaches, but I'd be glad if the current eleven stays and ups the performance. Our batting is still supreme. In my world I would open with Manish and Virat, followed by Robin and Ross.
I'd be happy with a 70-4 in 6 overs if that can be the platform for Jacques and Rahul to consolidate on, with Cameron or Boucher coming in to blast off at no.7 to get to a total of 180.
My insistence on the retention of the bowling attack is two fold. One, we need to back a set of bowlers who will win us the tournament, and that needs to be consistent.
Two, the four we played today are the best we have as far as skill and experience are concerned.
A spinner may come in depending on the pitches in Nagpur or Jaipur, but this combination has been arrived at after much thought, and perseverance should pay.
Kumble's been committed to the cause, but the next week will call for all of his inspirational powers for the bowlers. And as coach reiterates all the time, with the quality of players on the rolls, if RCB maintains their skill at a consistently high level, there should be no side which can beat them.
Our top four chances did take a hit with last night's loss, but only just. As the Fat Boy Slim album goes, There's Still a Long Way to Go, Baby.