The pushed-down peak of Virat Kohli's cap revealed the defeat he was striving to conceal as he slunk back into his position in the dugout. When he finally stood up to participate in the hasty post-game handshakes, he discovered the match ball that Shubman Gill had just emphatically whacked into the stands lying unattended close to the boundary. He waited a second to pick it up, but decided to kick it away instead. After everyone had exchanged greetings, Kohli was once more standing near to the abandoned match ball. He again swung a leg in frustration, sending the ball careening toward the boundary.

This was Kohli's second outburst on a day when he overtook Chris Gayle to pass him for the most IPL century with a fairly lavish knock. In the first, the cricket ball was also kicked. Mohammed Siraj botched a very straightforward save at short third-man during Gujarat Titans' pursuit of 197, and the ball ricocheted away off his leg, allowing Shubman Gill to steal a second run. Back on strike, the Titans' star batter hit Michael Bracewell for two sixes to reduce the equation to an even more manageable range.

Offspinner Bracewell was asked to bowl into the swinging arc of two established right-handers with a wet ball because RCB's top spinner on the night, rookie Himanshu Sharma, had given up four boundaries and 25 runs off his previous two overs. Despite the strong recommendation for Bracewell's bowling ability that team director Mike Hesson had given on the eve of the match, Faf du Plessis' desperate gamble had little chance of succeeding.

When RCB was the top spin bowling side through the middle overs of this crucial game only the previous season (7-15), with that tournament's second-highest wicket-taker Wandindu Hasaranga at the helm, it's necessary to peel back the layers to understand how they got there. As strange as it may sound, it was a result of the fact that three batters—Kohli, du Plessis, and Glenn Maxwell—accounted for 73.92% of the team's runs.

Bracewell might have returned to RCB's XI because of an injury to Hasaranga but he held his place for this must-win fixture even after the Sri Lankan was declared available for this game by Hesson because he added power to RCB's batting in the way the team didn't trust Hasaranga could and also provided the top-three something closer to the kind of insurance Gill got with a middle-order of Hardik Pandya, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan.

However, when viewed over the course of the season, RCB were dealing with a dilemma. Hasaranga, hampered for coherence by public group responsibilities toward the beginning of the mission and by a physical issue later on, hadn't been a similar bowler who required 26 wickets at 7.54 last year. His lower returns were reflected in the team's middle-overs numbers, leaving Siraj as the only genuine wicket-taker in the XI. His nine wickets from eight games this year came at a higher economy of 8.89. RCB required the second-least wickets (behind just SRH) and were most costly in the stage, yielding their runs at 9.60 to the over. Midway through the season, Mumbai Indians faced problems that were similar to those faced by RCB, but they followed a strategy that was similar to that of RCB: improve the batting, even if it meant improving the bowling.

However, while Mumbai's depth of hitting talent allowed them to outhit opponents, the best RCB players were unable to do the same. In a lot of ways, their batting performance in a crucial final league game was illustrative of this conundrum. After scoring 62 runs in the first six overs, du Plessis, Maxwell, and Lomror all fell quickly, giving the impression that their innings had run out of steam. Just 31 runs came in the four post-PowerPlay overs and it required an ideal mediation from Bracewell (26 off 16) to return the innings on target fairly.

As head coach Sanjay Bangar would later acknowledge, the result of a misfiring middle order also had an effect on how the top three played. Even on a day when he was "feeling it," Kohli couldn't afford to take the extra risks that a different line-up like an MI or CSK batter might have taken, even though he may have long-standing issues with tempo against spin following the fielding restrictions. Subsequent to getting 36 off 22 in the initial six overs today, Kohli made just 16 off 14 in the following six as his believed accomplices fell one after another at the opposite end. His century highlighted precisely one six - struck at the demise - while Gill's had eight. In fact, Kohli stated that the goal was to get the team to 190 after the fifth RCB wicket fell. This realizing completely well the dewy circumstances in play from the very outset of the game as well as the way that even a few 200 or more scores have been delivered under-standard here.

In decency to the group and its research organization, there have been alleviating conditions. The injury to Rajat Patidar, their large Indian batting trust, was awful. Unexpectedly, Karthik lost his form after a phenomenal IPL 2022 as the best finisher, scoring 140 runs at 11.67. Due to an injury, Josh Hazlewood only played three games, and the player who was signed to be his backup, Reece Topley, was ruled out after making one appearance. Then there was the impact substitute role, which reduced Shahbaz Ahmed and Mahipal Lomror's overall utility.

Sprays of individual splendor regardless, the last association game showed that RCB stayed a boat with additional openings than fingers accessible to plug them all. Curiously, this has been the team's theme since the days of the Kohli-Gayle-De Villiers axis, when there were no batting backups or a balanced bowling attack to make up for any weaknesses. Except if they can get more hands on deck to pull as one, that IPL prize would keep on excess slippery.


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