Mohammed Siraj and Co deserve as much credit as Virat Kohli and Rajat Patidar for RCB's turnaround in IPL 2024

While Virat Kohli, Rajat Patidar and Will Jacks deserve all the accolades for leading RCB's splendid response In the tournament, the bowlers' contribution to the team's revival also deserves praise and credit. Mohammed Siraj and co. were written off after their shocking display with the ball in the first half of the season, but showed great courage and character and radically reversed their declining fortunes thereafter.

The shocking first half

Mohammed Siraj of Royal Challengers Bengaluru (AFP)

8 matches, 7 defeats and only one victory – the Royal Challengers Bangalore were on the ground and experiencing a nightmarish tournament. It was the usual scenario that played out for them again this season – a top-order batting line-up that fired consistently but failed to adequately cover the insipid bowling unit.

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RCB picked just 34 wickets in their first eight matches – the fewest among all teams in the tournament, had the worst bowling average (47.5) and the worst bowling strike rate (26.5). Not only were their bowlers not providing the breakthroughs, but they were also very expensive and had an economy of 10.8 – again, the worst in the first half of the competition. They lost the most runs in the power play and were also among the two most expensive bowling units at the death.

The biggest disappointment with the ball for the Challengers during this period has been Siraj. One of the best with the new ball last season, Siraj had completely lost his rhythm and confidence this year. He scored just two powerplay wickets in 13 overs and was also dismantled conceding 11 per over. Alzarri Joseph, who was brought in as a death overs specialist, was getting tonked in the last four overs. There was no high-quality spinner who could pick wickets and restrict opposition batters in the middle – a role in which Yuzvendra Chahal has excelled for RCB over the years.

RCB was in the doldrums. From now on, they had to win every game to have a chance of making the playoffs.

The superb response

Will Jacks was given first to counter SRH's rampaging opening pair of Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma and struck immediately, disposing of the Australian for a single. Yash Dayal got rid of the dangerous Sharma in the fourth round. Slow left-arm orthodox Swapnil Singh then saw the backs of Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen in the next over. RCB had claimed four wickets in the powerplay against the most explosive batting unit of the tournament in their own backyard.

It was their best performance (in terms of number of wickets) in this phase of play in the competition. SRH could never recover from the initial damage and were soundly beaten by 35 runs. The victory changed something at RCB. It gave them self-confidence. This started a chain reaction within their bowling unit, thereby increasing their collective performance.

RCB have picked up 41 opposition wickets in their last five encounters – the most for any team in the tournament over this period. Their bowling average of 20.5 is also the best while their strike rate of 14 puts them in the top two alongside the Knight Riders. Their economy rate has fallen from 10.8 in the first eight matches to just 8.8 (the second best after CSK) in the last five. RCB bowlers now concede a boundary every 5.1 deliveries compared to 4.1 earlier.

Most powerplay wickets

The biggest transformation in RCB's bowling unit can be seen in their powerplay numbers in the last five matches. No team has taken more wickets than RCB's 14 in the first 6 overs during this period. Remarkably, RCB bowlers are also among the most restrictive in this phase of play with an economy rate of 8.5, which is slightly higher than that of SRH (8.3) and CSK (8.4) .

While Swapnil Singh picked the most wickets in the powerplay, it was Yash Dayal who was the most impressive in this phase of play conceding just 7 per over in the last five innings.

The most economical in terms of death

Another area of ​​their bowling that has completely transformed over the last five games is their economy in the death overs. RCB is the most restrictive bowling unit over this period in the last 4 overs with an economy rate of just 8. Siraj led the way in this phase of play by conceding just 51 runs in 7 overs with an economy rate of he outstanding economy of 7.3 – he made up for his lack of wickets in the first 6 overs by stifling the flow of runs in the last 4!

Their biggest test could yet await RCB. They will face arch-rivals CSK at home on Saturday in what could be a blockbuster shootout for the playoffs. However, if they win, it will be the greatest comeback by a team in the history of the IPL! And the RCB bowlers would have played their role in it.

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