A slow start followed by a mad rush to the playoffs has been the hallmark of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Indian Premier League campaigns in recent years.
Bangalore had their backs to the wall last season after an ordinary first half of the tournament, but made it to the final four by winning six of their last seven matches. They are in a precarious position this year as well, having won just two of their six matches so far.
Whether it’s due to the sheer experience of being in such positions or the belief in the group, Bangalore are quietly confident of doing an encore, according to S Arvind, the left-arm medium pacer.
“Every year it happens like that,” he said at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday (April 20). “It’s a game of cricket and anything can happen. Now we are in a better position (than last year), where we don’t have to win every game. That being said, we’ll take it one match at a time. We look forward to winning every match though.
“The last win (against Gujarat Lions) was good. We were expecting that it would end on a good note, but unfortunately we gave away a lot of runs in the end, which also included me. It’s a learning lesson but a good win for us. We will take it one match at a time, so we’re focusing on the next one.”
While the results have been similar to the previous year, this has been a weird start for Bangalore in that it’s the batsmen who are under the microscope more than the bowlers. Bangalore missed out on the services of AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli for the initial few games and are constantly in search of the right combination, but the bowling department has been fairly impressive, despite Mitchell Starc’s absence.
“As a bowling unit, we are working together. We are looking at good areas that we can bowl to,” explained Arvind. “We’re not thinking about the batsmen. We’re concentrating on the right areas and bowling to that region. I think we are clicking well.”
One notable aspect of Bangalore’s attack is the slew of left-arm bowlers – six in all, including Arvind himself. The medium pacer explained that it was a conscious decision by the management, given that most oppositions are filled with right-hand batsmen.
“Most of them are playing right-handed batsmen,” he explained. “Some teams have two-three left-handed batsmen but we don’t mind that because a good ball can get anyone out. Left-armers make a huge impact for us and we’re variation bowlers.”
The variations that Arvind talks of have particularly been handy at their home venue, where the tracks have behaved vastly differently from previous seasons, offering much more help to the bowlers this year. It was a change that the bowler in Arvind welcomed.
“The tenth edition was supposed to be a batsman’s paradise everywhere,” he said with a smile. “But we are used to that. Change of pace works well here and I think the Bangalore wicket is behaving well for the bowlers. But it all depends on how we bowl and bat on that day against any team.”
Bangalore’s next game is on Sunday – against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens – and Arvind had some potentially good news for their fans, saying the injuries to de Villiers, Samuel Badree and Tymal Mills were ‘minor’. The three foreign players missed Bangalore’s win against Gujarat, but Arvind revealed that they were progressing well and hoped they would be available from the next game.