Misfiring RCB top-order has Hesson worried; will Kohli, Rawat be benched?

Pune: With their top order misfiring big time, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) might have to bank upon the solidity of their middle-order — especially Dinesh Karthik — to earn them victory against Rajasthan Royals at the MCA Stadium on Tuesday, and the team’s director of cricket operations Mike Hesson conceded that the issue needed to be redressed urgently.

RCB, despite their decent performance in IPL 2022 so far have looked vulnerable, with the likes of Virat Kohli and Anuj Rawat woefully out of form at the top, leaving skipper Faf du Plessis occasionally and the middle- and lower-order to bail them out.

But on one of those rare occasions when the middle-order too failed to fire, RCB were bundled out for 68 in 16.1 overs for their second-lowest IPL total by Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Brabourne on April 23. The resurgent Kane Williamson-led SRH then scored a massive nine-wicket win with 12 overs to spare.

Hesson took note of the momentum-shattering loss, saying, “We struggled to get into the game. We struggled to gain any form of momentum at all. SRH bowled nicely in those conditions. We struggled to combat it.”

He then broke down the game. “When you lose three early wickets, you always try and fight your way back. We have already done this a few times. (Against SRH) we couldn’t. Everything we did, didn’t work out. We got on a certain bit of rollercoaster. I think the lower order scraped pretty hard to get us to a total but clearly the total was never enough.”

Hesson then shifted his focus at the RCB top-order, saying, “The top-order hasn’t really fired yet. We are not overthinking too much about it. We know that there are high quality players in that top-order. Some are firing on occasions and some not. That happens in T20 cricket. We won’t overthink that.”

Hesson also talked about RCB’s brilliant middle-order. “Our middle-order has been exceptional. They were asked to do another job. They were shouldered with the rebuilding job (vs SRH) which was a bit too far,” he conceded.

“Most teams on a game like this, they’re outplayed at some stage. You also win games as well. You outplay the oppositions too. We weren’t enough to get the better of Sunrisers. We need to come back stronger in our next game,” he added.

The New Zealander said that while the team could ill-afford such a speed-breaker in the middle of the tournament, he will not over-analyse the loss.

“The last thing you do in the middle of the tournament is you have one bad day in office and start to over-analyse. When we have a good game, we don’t think much about it and believe in ourselves and its’s important that we do the same (after loss to SRH).”

Calls have grown to leave Kohli and Rawat out of the playing XI, while including top-order batter Rajat Patidar and all-rounder Mahipal Lomror in their place, with a fan saying that the team “didn’t have a solid 1, 2, 3 in-form players”, adding that Kohli and Anuj Rawat “need a break”.

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