After Royal Challengers Bangalore ambled to their second sub-hundred total and lost by 61 runs, a visibly disconsolate captain Virat Kohli conceded that his team lost the game rather than Rising Pune Supergiant winning it.
"I think it is everyone for see. We lost that game. It is hard for a captain to stand here and speak after performances like these," Kohli said after the side's third successive loss. "But, [I have] got to embrace it, got to take it in the journey, take it in my stride and move forward and learn from these kind of games, these kind of days.
"We are just not getting good performances together. It is lack of intent, guys fearful of getting out and failing and that's never a good feeling. So, that's all it boils down to. We lost the game rather than them winning it.
Royal Challengers barely escaped being bowled out for the third game in a row after totals of 49 and 134 in their last two completed games. With the exception of Kohli - he made 55 of the team's total of 96 for 9 - the other batsmen finished with single digits. Royal Challengers were on 49 for 5 at one stage and didn't strike a single six until the 17th over. Kohli couldn't point to any specific reason as to how how a batting line-up consisting of himself, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle could fail continuously.
"Could be a few reasons, could be expectations, could be even looking at our side," Kohli said. "We made the playoffs last year, good batting line-up, so all kinds of things play in your head. You can't really pinpoint something unless you know as an individual. It could be hesitation to get out, hesitation to get runs, all those sort of things as batsmen, you know, they can creep in very quickly."
Mathematically, Royal Challengers could still make the playoffs, but Kohli didn't rate their chances too highly. "We are almost not in the race for the playoffs now, pretty much All we can do now is just enjoy the four games," he said. "Not worry about failing, not worry about not getting runs and just go out there and express ourselves."
Coach Daniel Vettori reiterated Kohli's statements on staying focused for the next four games. "There are still four more games to go and they are really important for the pride of the franchise," Vettori said. "We travel to Mumbai tomorrow. We need to play well there."
Vettori was pleased that Royal Challengers' bowlers had restricted Rising Pune to 157. He was particularly appreciative of Pawan Negi, who conceded only 18 runs in his four overs and picked up Rahul Tripathi's wicket. "Our bowling performances throughout the season have been exceptional. A real improvement from where we were last year and some of that is down to the wickets we have played on," Vettori said.
When asked about the batting failures, Vettori admitted that they had a different batting line-up in mind at the start of the season, but injuries to KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan forced a rethink in strategy. "A number of guys I suppose, aren't in the form expected of them," Vettori said. "Virat has led us exceptionally well, not only with the captaincy but with his batting. The group knows where we haven't performed, that's what we need to rectify."
Rising Pune, on the other, had no problems with either fear of failure or expressing themselves, as they completed their fourth win in five games. While lauding his team's "complete" performance, captain Steve Smith singled out pacer Lockie Ferguson for doing everything asked of him.
Ferguson, playing only his second game, finished with figures of 2 for 7 in four overs, including the wicket of de Villiers. "That's a magnificent effort, isn't it?" Smith said. "Three overs of dot balls from Lockie, hit good lengths and bowled good bouncers as well. He is an exciting player for the future."
Smith, however, admitted Rising Pune didn't get the runs they were looking for. "We didn't know what was enough at the halfway point, to be fair. The wicket was a little bit slow and obviously Bangalore players have some quality plyers in their line-up. I thought we came out and bowled really well. We executed our plans really well tonight."