IPL 2024: Time for Siraj to step up as RCB seek win boost

For starters, they have lost four in five, including the last three. Virat Kohli is scoring runs, but no one else is.
Royal Challengers Bengaluru Mohammed Siraj celebrates with teammates
Royal Challengers Bengaluru Mohammed Siraj celebrates with teammatesExpress

CHENNAI: In what is a bottom-table clash between two high profile teams, Royal Challengers Bengaluru take on Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede on Thursday. With one win from four games, the home team would want to continue the momentum and get two more points. RCB, on the other hand, have their task cut out in many ways.

For starters, they have lost four in five, including the last three. Virat Kohli is scoring runs, but no one else is. The conversation about his acceleration rate remains and so has their reliance on overseas batters and their failures. Their bowling attack has looked toothless. In that particular case, the problem is not just execution.

RCB, to put it as it is, do not have a proven spin attack, not even domestic players. Then there is the issue of player rotation and selection. Vijaykumar Vyshak played one match, bowled really well but has not taken the field since. Reece Topley has played only twice and Alzarri Joseph thrice. Perhaps, the only positive so far is the performance of Yash Dayal, who has upskilled significantly from last year.

Dayal is nailing the yorkers in the death while keeping batters at check with back-of-length deliveries in the middle-overs. His economy of 8.31 when the team is operating at 9.41 tells the story. However, Topley and he can only do so much. All of this points to the biggest concern for RCB — the form of Mohammed Siraj.

One of the key performers for the franchise since he made a name for himself, Siraj has been off the radar to say the least. From taking 19 wickets in 14 games at an average of 19.79 and an economy of 7.52 in 2023, Siraj has gone to four wickets in five innings at 48 while operating at 10.11. That he has taken only one wicket in the powerplay so far has only added to the problems as Siraj has not looked threatening. Whether it is because of his workload — he has played the most number of games across formats among Indian pacers in the last 12 months — or something else, only RCB management would know.

But what makes one wonder is when the bowling department is not clicking, why is Vyshak not in the playing XI. If Dayal and Siraj are going to be your premier pacers with Topley being the lone overseas bowler, you will have to turn to Cameron Green, which again is not working (avg 52.5, ECO 9.4). If there ever was a time for Siraj to step up, it is the game against MI. For they need him now more than ever and him performing will allow them to sort out the rest of the combination. Can they? Only time will tell.

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