Du Plessis' men must root out inconsistency to contain rampaging Rajasthan Royals
Inconsistency can be frustrating. For proof ask Royal Challengers Bangalore. As a team they have done reasonably well, barring the nine-wicket loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday night, but when you delve deeper, there are many missing pieces of the puzzle that need to come together for Faf du Plessis and his men if they fancy a shot at the elusive title.
Discrepancies in many areas have been masked by some individual heroics with bat and ball, but they will soon run out of performances to hide behind.
On Tuesday night, RCB run into the in-form Rajasthan Royals. To overcome the challenges Sanju Samson and Co will pose, the team will have to put its house in order.
To begin with, their performance in the Powerplay has been nothing to write home about. Du Plessis has been blowing hot and cold while his opening partner Anuj Rawat has failed in his last three outings, which includes two ducks. The biggest concern for RCB at the top is the horrendous form of former skipper Virat Kohli. The seasoned batsman's prolonged lean patch is hurting the team.
Two consecutive first-ball dismissals and strong voices for him to take a break from the sport have only compounded his problems. But Kohli, a man for all seasons and formats, knows what is best for the team and him. He will hope to break the shackles against Rajasthan and find form.
On the bowling front, RCB bowlers have been found wanting in the Powerplay, having picked up just eight wickets in as many outings in the first six overs. RCB have relied heavily on their middle-order comprising Dinesh Karthik and Shahbaz Ahmed to bail them out. Against SRH, the duo failed resulting in the team being bowled out for a lowly 68, which saw it drop to fifth in the points table.
Against a lethal Rajasthan batting line-up which includes the rampaging Jos Buttler (491 runs 100s: 2; 50s: 2), early wickets will be crucial for RCB to make a match of the contest. Rajasthan at an average of 47.9 have been the best in Powerplay, a fact which will hang heavily on the opposition.
Rajasthan has the best combination of spin and pace with RCB's former star spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (18 wickets) leading from the front and R Ashwin weighing in with his experience. The pace duo of Prasidh Krishna and Trent Boult too have proved to be effective. With Devdutt Padikkal back in form, Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer's big hitting abilities, RCB bowlers clearly have their task cut out.