Most drops, most no-balls: Royal Challengers top the wrong tables
Let's be blunt here. Royal Challengers have been most disappointing this season when it comes to getting the basics right.
Two parameters on which that statement is based: drops and no-balls. Virat Kohli's team tops both lists. Including the drop of Delhi Capitals' captain Shreyas Iyer in the first over today, Royal Challengers have dropped a total of 14 catches, the most by any team. Before today, despite being in pole position against Kolkata Knight Riders
, Royal Challengers dropped four chances before Andre Russell hurt them at the death.
A few of those dropped catches have been difficult opportunities, but not the catch of Iyer. Tim Southee had been blasted by Andre Russell two evenings back, but started well by having Shikhar Dhawan caught straightaway. Southee might have had two wickets in the same over, but keeper Parthiv Patel, having moved to the wrong side initially, failed to latch on to the thick outside edge against an away swinger. Iyer was on 4 then, and went on to make a match-winning 67.
Also, Royal Challengers' ground-fielding has been a massive pain point: they've had as many as 17 misfields and overthrows so far, joint-most alongside Delhi Capitals.
Now on to the no-balls, another basic. No-balls can hurt as they result in free hits, which give sleepless nights to bowlers. Overall, Royal Challengers have bowled 6 no-balls, the most in this IPL, resulting in 24 free runs. Analysing the Knight Riders' defeat, AB de Villiers noted this in his newspaper column on Sunday: "We should not be bowling three no-balls and eight wides in an innings. We should not be dropping catches. We should not be faltering under pressure."
Simple truth: Royal Challengers are faltering badly, bottom of the points table and topping the wrong ones.
An unusual Kohli innings; what was the plan?
This was an underwhelming Virat Kohli innings: he was out off the first ball of the first death over, having made a quiet 41 off 33. Never before had Kohli been kept so quiet and rendered so ineffective in an IPL innings in which he had batted that deep.
At the end of the 13th over, Kohli signalled an early second strategic timeout. Not many times do teams call for for the break, where think-tanks take stock and discuss strategy, before they have to. Perhaps up for discussion this time was whether Kohli should stick on till the end and, so, wait to launch the end-overs attack. That might have been the straightforward answer, considering Kohli's strike rate peaks over 160 in the final four overs: he has scored 332 runs from 148 balls in the death overs (17-20) of the IPL.
If indeed it was the plan for Kohli to drop anchor only to explode at death, it did not quite come off. In fact, in spite of how deep he batted in terms of overs, Kohli did not get much of the strike to direct play. By the time the Powerplay was done, Kohli had faced just 11 deliveries, scoring run-a-ball. By the end of over 15, Kohli had 26 off 27 balls. In 12 previous attempts where Kohli had opened and batted till the 15th over and was not out, never had he faced fewer balls or batted slower than today.
What, no Lamichhane in the Powerplay?
You must have noticed, too. Why did Delhi Capitals not bowl Sandeep Lamichhane
in the Powerplay, the segment of play where he dominates? You'd have thought Lamichhane's presence in the first six overs today was a strong likelihood considering the struggles of AB de Villiers, and to an extent Virat Kohli against legspin, especially their failure against the googly.
Since last IPL, in every match he has played, Lamichhane has bowled in the Powerplay. From 54 deliveries he bowled across six innings' Powerplays, he bagged four wickets and had an economy rate of 6.44. Despite that, Capitals banked on their fast men to do the job against RCB's top order on a greenish pitch. For their part, Ishant Sharma, Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada did make use of a greenish pitch to put Royal Challengers on the back foot; the hosts got off to slowish start compiling just 40 for the loss of Parthiv Patel and de Villiers - their lowest Powerplay score at home this season.
Lamichhane almost came on in the seventh over, before Shreyas Iyer had second thoughts and decided to stick with Rabada, presumably to hunt for another big wicket. In the words of Brad Hodge on Star Sports Select DugOut, "If you can get Rabada against your big players and steal another wicket here, it makes Lamichhane's job easier".
Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. Gaurav Sundararaman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo