Women's Premier League (WPL) 2023: Royal Challengers Bangalore and the same story of an unplanned season. RCB Women have lost all 5 games in WPL 2023 so far.
The Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 which began on March 4 in Mumbai, has been one of the main attractions for cricket lovers in India. The hype around this franchise league which has produced some very exciting games in a very short period is slowly but steadily getting familiar with women’s cricket in India.
Even though most of the teams have started their journey on a high, few teams are still searching for the vital momentum in the tournament. Mumbai Indians Women (MI-W) are at the top of the table with four victories, while Delhi Capitals Women (DC-W) are in the second position with eight points from 5 games. However, Royal Challengers Bangalore Women (RCB-W) has been on a downslide with 5 back-to-back defeats.
A short look at how RCB-W’s season has panned out at the halfway mark of the season.
Unplanned RCB-W and their clueless preparation: A carbon copy from Men’s IPL
A look at the maiden season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008 will reflect the same sort of start for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB); they won just two of their first 10 games in that season. The women’s side has begun in the exact same fashion as they are yet to register their first victory of the WPL even after playing five games.
In their opening game against Delhi Capitals-Women, opting to bowl first, the Bangalore bowlers were smashed all around the park with the opponents posting 223/2 on the board. In reply, even after a good start in the powerplay, the inconsistency in their batting order saw them packing up for 163, losing the game by 60 runs. In their second game, because of the same type of batting, RCB-W folded up for 155, losing by nine wickets against Mumbai Indians Women.
In their third game of the season, Gujarat Giants again smashed Bangalore to secure 201/7 on the scoreboard. Again, RCB-W got a fabulous start but a struggling middle order saw them losing the game by just 11 runs. The fourth game of the season was perhaps the most struggling one so far for them in this season where they could manage only 138 in 19.3 overs. The batters of UP Warriorz who chased down the score with 10 wickets in hand and seven overs to spare, reduced RCB-W to tears. Their batting let them down against DC-W as well as RCB-W were restricted to 150/4, eventually losing the game by 6 wickets.
“Lots to reflect and lots to work on; I should admit last week has been really tough,” RCB-W captain Smriti Mandhana expressed at the end of the game against UP Warriorz. “But as international cricketers, we have faced these situations.”
Let’s take a look at few sections where RCB-W are struggling in this season.
Pressure mounting on captain and batter Smriti Mandhana
India’s high-profile player, Smriti Mandhana, who emerged as the most expensive player of the WPL auction has found herself in a tough situation. Definitely, there is always pressure on her to score big but then she has the full-time leadership duty on the big stage: captaining a side that’s mixed with both young and veteran overseas players, who are really unknown to her.
The left-handed batter had a decent start in the season with a 23-ball 35 run knock thanks to five boundaries and one six at a strike rate of 152.17 against Delhi Capitals Women, but since then she hasn’t lived up to his mark. The opposition bowlers have found a way early in the tournament to dismiss her; after getting out to off-spinners in the first three games, Mandhana pushed the full toss and half volleys of Grace Harris for singles in the powerplay against the Warriorz which pointed that she has been really unsettled against the spinners and then she suddenly played a wrong shot against Rajeshwari Gayakwad to find the cover fielder. Shikha Pandey got the better of Mandhana when DC-W took on RCB-W on March 13.
With just 53 runs in the last four games, Mandhana has taken the blame on her as a top order batter for not giving her bowlers enough runs to defend. However, Ellyse Perry has shown full trust on her captain to make a strong return in the rest of the competition.
“It’s an enormous task to come into a brand new competition, play with a group of players she’s never played with before and try and make that all gel in a matter of a couple of days since she joined the group,” Perry expressed at the end of their game against UP Warriorz.
An immature batting line-up where Richa Ghosh comes at number 8
No matter how dynamic and aggressive batters a team have, unless they plan and gel themselves in the right order, they can never get the right product from it.
It’s really surprising that Royal Challengers Bangalore Women have the best powerplay run rate so far in this season while the Delhi Capitals sit on number two. But that also means that the middle order are not offering them enough with the bat. They have lost most of their wickets in the middle phase as in their last game against UP Warriorz, they slipped from 54/1 to 116/5. Even against Mumbai, they lost 5/39 while against Delhi they were reduced to 96/7 from being at 89/2 at one time.
The middle period where the other teams are accelerating and finding their way to post a huge score for the end, Bangalore are losing wickets constantly. All the hard work done by Ellyse Perry and Sophie Devine in the top-order has been undone. And there is serious question over the team management to not have a crystal plan.
Richa Ghosh who has all the abilities to smash the bowlers all around the park hardly finds three to five balls to face in each innings; Ghosh should be provided at least 20-odd deliveries and for which she should be promoted in the batting order RCB-W did send her in at number 5 against DC-W where Ghosh came good with a 16-ball 37.
Chopping and changing seems to be running in the DNA of RCB
No matter whether it’s the IPL or WPL, chopping and changing seems to be running in their DNA. Unlike the successful sides like Mumbai and Delhi, Bangalore have changed their team in almost every game and as a result, even after five games, they are yet to address their best settled playing eleven.
They haven’t still figured out their number 4 batter. In five games, they have used five players in the position - Disha Kasat, Ellyse Perry, Richa Ghosh, Kanika Ahuja and Heather Knight.
They dropped Disha Kasat, the captain of Vidarbha’s senior women’s team, just after two games. Kasat has been the leading run-scorer for her team in all the tournaments. She cracked more than 300 runs at a strike rate of 114.50 during the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy.
The first Vidarbha batter to score a T20 hundred, Kasat has scored 399 runs in 12 matches in the domestic circuit with an average of 44.33. In the game against UP Warriorz, after a good stand between Devine and Perry, sending inexperienced Kanika Ahuja held back their progress.
On another note, lack of quality India players have made them struggle. The recent form of their premier India bowler, Renuka Singh Thakur who till now in this competition has figures of 1/139 in 14.4 overs, is a concern for them too.
Another do-or-die situation for Bangalore
Quite funnily but whether it’s the men’s team or women’s team, the calculator always comes out very early in their season. This is not a different story. At this point, Bangalore are placed at the bottom of the table with five defeats in five games at a net run rate (NRR) of -2.109.
With three teams that can qualify out of five sides for the qualifiers of WPL 2023, RCB-W have to win all their last four games and hope few results go in their favour. They won’t want UP Warriorz and Gujarat Giants to win most of their games left in the competition.
Royal Challengers Bangalore Women (RCB-W) will now lock horns with Uttar Pradesh Warriorz (UPW-W) on March 15 at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai.