RCB v NSW, 1st semi-final, CLT20, Bangalore October 7, 2011

Another win, but bowling a worry for Bangalore

Royal Challengers Bangalore chased down another 200-plus total but such big targets highlight some deficiencies in their bowling

Another day, another 200-plus target chased down at the Chinnaswamy. And this time Royal Challengers Bangalore got there with time to spare. Fans trooping out of the stadium after the game weren't re-enacting the heart-stopping final shot as they had two days ago after the South Australia match, but the biggest crowd of the tournament lapped up the entertainment - the endless stream of sixes, the extended fireworks after the win, and the flag-waving victory lap from the team.

The two biggest stars in the home team delivered: Chris Gayle added another innings to his year of big-hitting that could end up being the gold standard for domestic Twenty20 batting, and Virat Kohli again showed you could score two runs a ball without resorting to slogging - highlighted by four fours off Mitchell Starc in the sixth over.

The fans were cock-a-hoop and the team exhilarated after storming to the final despite the initial mis-steps in the tournament. Even the fielding, a constant source of frustration for captain Daniel Vettori and coach Ray Jennings, was markedly better. Big question marks remain, though, over the bowling, especially the fast bowling.

On Friday, part-time offspinner Tillakaratne Dilshan, who hasn't been called on to bowl all tournament, was outstanding with the new ball, surrendering only ten runs in his four-over spell. Still, the Royal Challengers' bowling caved to allow New South Wales to power past 200. It may be a flat track, the outfield may be quick, and the boundaries relatively short, but the bowling has rarely inspired confidence throughout the campaign - even when Gayle had provided the insurance of a 207-run target against Somerset, the match was evenly poised halfway through the chase.

The biggest worry for the Royal Challengers is the form of Australian fast bowler Dirk Nannes. In the absence of the injured Zaheer Khan, Nannes was expected to be the pace spearhead who would help out up-and-coming medium-pacers like S Aravind and Abhimanyu Mithun. Instead after five matches, he has a double-digit economy-rate, has just one wicket, has bowled the most wides in the tournament and his average stands at an utterly unflattering 198.

He can still touch 90mph, bowl a toe-crushing yorker and surprise batsmen with his bouncer, but those skills have been sighted too few times as his inconsistent lines and lengths have been routinely punished by the opposition. Twice on Friday, he managed to fool David Warner, who was powering to a second successive Twenty20 century, with a slower ball that leaves the left-hander, but on both those deliveries were preceded by full ones that were clobbered for six by Warner.

As for the other pace options, Mithun was discarded after one poor game, against the Warriors. Aravind began reasonably well, but has been in meltdown over the past two matches. Against South Australia, there were at least three boundaries in each of his overs as he finished with 0 for 69, the second most expensive spell in Twenty20 history. Against NSW, the damage was relatively lesser (55 runs) and he was strangely entrusted with the final over, which went for 23, though Vettori hadn't bowled out. This after Dan Christian had clouted him for 24 in the final over two days ago.

Vettori defended the bowling, though he acknowledged that improvement was needed. "We've obviously bowled well enough," he chuckled after the win over New South Wales. "It's hard to sum up, you come off the field disappointed, having gone for 200, you have to be realistic and say, 'It's an incredibly tough wicket to bowl on, the ball seems to travel.' So if you can keep them below 200, you have done a good job."

Warner bludgeoned an unbeaten 135 in Chennai earlier this week, but generally the surface there has been tough to score on, and bowlers have had more of a say than in Bangalore. "There are a lot of disappointed bowlers in the room, we have to make sure we're better than that on the Chennai wicket," Vettori said. "It's probably going to be a little easier for the bowlers, but we've got to be better, we've got to support the batsmen."

The Royal Challengers fans won't be complaining though if the bowlers flop again on Sunday and the team makes it a hat-trick of successful large chases.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shantanu on October 8, 2011, 19:58 GMT

    With MI winning the second SF the CLT20 trophy would remain in India. RCB's concerns are not just bowling but lack of sufficient batting for middle order. RCB would want top three to click again hugely but playing Malinga is different than what other bowlers have dished out to them. Early couple of wickets can cause severe dent. Just for that fact MI start as favourites. I dont know if Aravind would get another game but if he doesnt its all due to his poor bowling. MI are clicking as a unit and RCB have won only because of their top order batting and surely have more issues to sort out then MI.

  • umair on October 8, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    why dont u bring some bowling machines and let the batsmen hit as much they can in 20 overs so that bowlers dont get humilated .t20 spoiled cricket

  • Samapth on October 8, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    Virat Kohli is the next sachin Tendulkar of Indian cricket.Awasome skills.Great maturity.Good luck young man.

  • Sami on October 8, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    Not only bowlers, Tiwary & Agarwal need to up their game too, what if the top order doesn't fire in the finals?? You NEED a proper middle order, atm it's like:- Gayle, Dilshan, Kohli, Big Hole, Vettori.

  • Rajesh on October 8, 2011, 7:33 GMT

    @Gerard- You are right man. If I were the chairman of selectors I would have given a life ban to Bhajji and Gambhir- where did all the injuries go just in time for the big money!!!. Well Iam seeing Dhoni breakdown before the Aussie tour and that will be the icing on the cake. The Aussie boys will be waiting to whip the Indian boys- Oh God how will the Raina's and other wonder boys dance on the Perth Pitch.

  • Garry on October 8, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    Gerard Pereira who cares about the test series in england? it was not like they were playing against a legitamate team, pick english players then come back to talk the talk.

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    Hate to generalize, but why is there ALWAYS a Sri Lankan cricket fan spewing venom against India? even on a thread which has nothing to do with test cricket. I'm hoping it's certainly not the bitterness of losing the WC final, that's long gone. Can understand if some England supporter was gloating in view of recent performances, 'cuz no honest judge would disagree Ind were outplayed. But SL? they were all about Jayawardene, Sangakkara and (now retired)Murali. Others hardly perform outside home, and their away record .. even in India, isn't anything to write home about. (if that's where you wanna start) And if you don't watch CLT20 - that's cuz your domestic T20 champs are the bottom of the pile, and get's kicked out first thing during CLT20 - so stop deluding yourself! (and commenting on things you have scant idea about)

  • Thushar on October 8, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    Not sure what you mean by 2-men show. Only yesterday it was a 1-man show for you. Next thing you will say its a 3-men show (add Vettori). Thats how it is with pretty much every IPL team. If Hussey scores then Chennai are in otherwise it is a pretty mediocre middle order there. For Mumbai, it is Malinga show, if he has an off day then they are staring at 200 plus score with no ammunition in the batting. Less said the better about Kolkata. So learn to live with it, only because RCB are winning doesn't mean other IPL teams are better than them in anyway.

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    @Sumeet.Gupta absolutely right... Especially Gayle.. if he gets out in the first over like in IPL finals.. thats it for RCB... let them hope that Gayle atleast plays for 6 or 7 overs.. If not trouble trouble trouble...

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    RCB,s bowling is a huge concern, barring Vettori and Nannes, there are no class bowlers, Dilshan Clicked yesturday, but can,t expect the same from him as he is a Batsman, Arvind needs to improve a lot , Bhatkal is an average bowler, Gayle can be unpredictable and Kohli too can give away lot of runs .The real test for the bowlers will come in Chennai, You can,t expect the batsman to get 200+ for 4 consecutive times....

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