The question mark over Royal Challengers Bangalore's bowling remains, following their seven-wicket loss to Kings XI Punjab at the Chinnaswamy after posting 174. After the game, captain Virat Kohli said the total was good enough to defend, and it is worrying that his bowlers are misfiring at this important stage of the tournament.
"The bowling has not been great. That's something we need to look into," Kohli said. "That was a bit of concern last year as well, so we thought bringing in more options would be helpful but the guys haven't been able to execute in the last few overs.
"One-seventy-five was a pretty good total to defend. But we didn't hit the right areas."
Royal Challengers had bought four seamers at the IPL auction in February, in Ravi Rampaul, RP Singh, Jaydev Unadkat and Pankaj Singh. Their other three acquisitions were seam-bowling allrounders Moises Henriques, Dan Christian and Christopher Barnwell. Kohli had said in the lead-up to the season that he had specifically wanted to shore up their attack, but still the bowling issues persist.
For the game against Kings XI, Rampaul, who has been one of the better Royal Challengers bowlers this season - with 12 wickets from nine games, he has the best average and economy rate for the team so far - was left out. Kohli said that was prompted by Kings XI's line-up: "Ravi didn't play because they had three impact left-handers [Adam Gilchrist, Shaun Marsh and David Miller], so we decided that [Muttiah] Muralitharan would be a better option."
When they batted, Royal Challengers had got off to a sedate start, with Kohli and Chris Gayle only scoring at around a run-a-ball until the 14th over. That, Kohli said, was because of the nature of the pitch: "The wicket looked pretty good to play on but that actually wasn't the case. It was pretty slow, keeping low and the ball wasn't coming on to the bat. That's why Chris and I decided to stick around.
"In the first five-six overs, the pitch was a bit different [to the usual tracks at the Chinnaswamy] and it was keeping low and slow. It settled down beautifully in the second half and we didn't expect that. I thought it would remain slow throughout the game."
Royal Challengers now need to win their final game, against current table-toppers Chennai Super Kings, and hope other results go in their favour to progress to the playoffs. "It's not a good position to be in, with a must-win game at hand. But we have to deal with it," Kohli said. "We have to let the guys be themselves and not put pressure on them. They are professionals and know what to do."