Albie Morkel, the Royal Challengers Bangalore allrounder, has said RCB were "not playing too well as a team yet," and put their struggles in IPL 2014 down to top-order wobbles and the bowlers conceding too many extras.
Royal Challengers' 32-run defeat at home to Kings XI Punjab on May 9 was their fifth loss in six games, after they had begun the season with two wins. They are presently sixth in the points table.
"It just hasn't clicked; I don't know why," Morkel told iplt20.com when asked about RCB's batting. "In five out of the seven games we have played, we have lost too many wickets up front. We are not playing too well as a team yet. There are six more games left and we have to win all of them to have a chance at the playoffs."
Before the season began, Royal Challengers were touted to have the most destructive line-up, with Yuvraj Singh and Morkel adding to the existing firepower of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. However, only de Villiers averages more than 23, and before scoring two half-centuries in his last three innings, he too was having an indifferent season. Gayle averages 22 in four innings, striking at 156, and Yuvraj and Kohli average 20 in eight each, striking at 102 and 113 respectively.
The upshot of RCB's poor top-order form is that Morkel, who is batting higher up the order than he did at his previous team Chennai Super Kings, has had to come into match situations where a rescue act is needed, and not the powerful cameos he is known for. Morkel hasn't found his groove either, making only 44 runs in four innings.
"What has changed here is that I bat a bit higher - at No.6 or 7 - whereas at CSK, I came in at No.8," Morkel said when asked about the difference in his roles at Super Kings and Royal Challengers. "So, there's more chance for me with the bat here. However, since we haven't fired as a batting unit yet, it makes the drill quite difficult for someone coming in later in the order.
"I am not talking about me in particular, but anyone coming in at that position. When the number in the wickets column is low, it is nice to come in with the platform already set and then to build on it. Having said that, I have always wanted a bigger batting role, which I have been getting here, and from a personal point of view, I am very disappointed that I haven't made it count with big scores. But I am not beating myself up yet."
Royal Challengers' bowling was considered their weak suit but in the early stages of the tournament the attack acquitted itself well. However, in their last two games against Mumbai Indians and Kings XI, RCB conceded 40 runs in extras - 26 of those in wides and no-balls.
"Yes, we did bowl too many leg-side wides, and honestly, they weren't the result of us trying to do something," Morkel said after the loss against Kings XI. "It was just the lack of discipline. From the bowling unit's perspective, we did so well in the first five matches, but in the last two, we've given away far too many extras. Against MI, we gave away 25 extras, which is way too many if you want to win T20 games. We will try and correct that in the coming matches; we will have to."