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Questions RCB must answer to start winning

Who should open? Is the best bowling attack taking the field? How to solve the Hetmyer slump?

Sreshth Shah and Nagraj Gollapudi
At the start of this IPL, Royal Challengers Bangalore's captain Virat Kohli said the team would have a new energy this season. An energy that would fuel the unit to work as one and gain momentum. Four matches and four defeats later, where's that energy? Where's that momentum?
After the fourth straight defeat, against Rajasthan Royals, Kohli admitted his unit was stiff, nervous. He said he would still not shy away from tinkering with the XI, till winning ways are found again.
Here are some questions - and statistics - Kohli should mull while figuring out those changes.
Why isn't Kohli opening?
Three opening combinations in four matches. Kohli, Moeen Ali and Shimron Hetmyer have opened with Parthiv Patel. Only Parthiv has retained the opener's slot. His 41-ball 67 against the Royals has been the highest from the spot, by far.
But Parthiv is no Quinton de Kock who gets off the blocks swiftly and continues to accelerate. Since March 2017, his Powerplay strike rate of 148.67 is par for the course, but he strikes at only 119.83 after the first six overs.
It remains unclear as to why Kohli has not been a regular opener this season. He remains Royal Challengers' most-consistent opener. Since March 2017, Kohli's strike rate of 122.50 in the Powerplay spikes to 160 if he has survived to the death overs.
Do RCB really know their middle order?
AB de Villiers has moved between Nos. 3 and 4. Hetmyer has oscillated between opener, No. 4 and No. 5. Moeen Ali has played in the top order then has been pushed to the lower order. Shivam Dube, bought for his finishing skills mainly, played three matches in the lower order but was dropped against Royals. Do the Royal Challengers really know their middle order?
Clearly the key men after Kohli are de Villiers and Hetmeyer, but both have been shuffled. De Villiers has strong numbers at both one-down or as No. 4. So, regardless of his struggle against wristspin, de Villiers must be a fixture at one of those spots.
What is Hetmyer's role?
Shimron Hetmyer. Even Big Cat Clive Lloyd, former West Indies captain and chairman of selectors, thinks the young Guyanese is a big-impact player. Sadly for Royal Challengers, Hetmyer has not yet announced himself. In fact, Hetmyer is going through an extended slump in T20 cricket. In his last 10 T20 innings, Hetmyer has six single-digit scores (five of those have come in the last five innings), striking over 100 in only four of those 10.
This is his first IPL and, clearly, Hetmyer is trying to settle down. In the first two matches he played in the middle order at No. 5, then he opened, and then returned to No. 4. Returns of 5, 0, 9, 1 belittle the talent Hetmyer possesses. For a newcomer like him, perhaps a consistent role is more likely to build his confidence than asking him to fill in for various roles as needed.
Teams will keep a close tab on Hetmyer's struggle to read or respond to the spinning delivery - twice already he has fallen against balls turning away, and has shown susceptibility against spin on turning tracks.
Numbers indicate Hetmyer, who was the highest run-getter in the 2018 CPL among West Indies players, is most comfortable when he bats in the top order - when he can create room to play his strokes against the new ball. In the 16 T20 innings he has played at No. 3, Hetmyer's strike rate has been 144, and he has scored 482 runs. There might be a hint there for Kohli and Co.
Is the best bowling attack taking the field?
Tim Southee and Washington Sundar have not played a single game yet. Sitting out might be hurting the pair especially since the Indian fast bowlers that have featured - Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj - have not exactly dominated the opposition.
One debatable selection has been two out of the four overseas slots are specialist batsmen in de Villiers and Hetmyer, even while the bowlers fumble. Moeen has been used as the allrounder but has created no dents. Colin de Grandhomme failed badly in the three matches he played and was replaced by another allrounder, Marcus Stoinis. The Australian might come in handy with the bat, but can his medium pace on flat, slow pitches prove effective?
Is there scope to follow the example of teams like Chennai Super Kings who have played only three overseas players to accommodate an extra domestic player according to the pitch?
Do Royal Challengers continue tinkering or do they provide stability as well as specific roles to players, which might allow them to settle down quickly and start making an impact?

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo