Star Indian batter Smriti Mandhana was the first cricketer to go under the hammer at the Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 players’ auction. Royal Challengers (RCB) splurged a whopping Rs 3.4 crore to have her onboard and naming her the leader of the pack was a no-brainer. In fact, the franchise also signed the likes of Ellyse Perry, Sophie Devine, Heather Knight, and Renuka Singh, to name a few, to strengthen their army. Just like the men’s team, RCB women looked one of the strongest sides but a week after the tournament’s commencement, they are reeling at the bottom of the table with four straight defeats and zero points.
The batting unit has been getting good starts while the bowlers are picking up wickets as well. But they haven’t been able to cross the line, yet. They lost the campaign opener by 60 runs to Delhi Capitals, were defeated by Mumbai Indians by nine wickets, were beaten by Gujarat Giants by 11 runs and the most recent and humiliating one, a 10-wicket drubbing at the hands of UP Warriorz.
What’s up with RCB in WPL 2023?
Despite being a star-studded side, RCB are yet to win a game and former India cricketer Reema Malhotra, currently a WPL Expert with Sports18 and JioCinema, feels the franchise hasn’t been able to click as a team.
During an interaction facilitated by the official broadcasters on Friday, Reema underlined that RCB aren’t making the most of their domestic players.
“If you look at the RCB, they have picked up a heavy side. They have picked some great players in Smriti Mandhana, Ellyse Perry, Renuka Singh Thakur etc. But the problem is, they aren’t utilising the Indian players well,” Reema replied to a News18 Cricketnext query.
“They have Kanika Ahuja, an all-rounder from Punjab, who hasn’t bowled yet in the league. They didn’t use Poonam Khemnar as a bowler. If you have options but you won’t use them, then you will always have a shortage,” she added.
A series of defeats have also raised a few fingers towards Mandhana’s captaincy but Reema suggests that should not be the case.
“I have played against Smriti and I am aware of her captaincy. She has led her side to the final in the domestic circuit. But now her leadership is being questioned which doesn’t make sense. It’s just that she has joined the team recently and doesn’t have much idea about the domestic players. Nothing is wrong but they are not clicking as a team,” Reema told News18 Cricketnext.
No big face in support staff
While the rivals have experienced figures in the backroom, RCB lacks someone who could be a guiding light for Smriti.
Reema suggests had there been someone like a Jhulan Goswami or Mithali Raj among the RCB support staff, Smriti would have been a happy captain.
“And here lies the role of the support staff. If they won’t tell you about your resources and their capabilities then it will drag your side backwards. Other sides have big names associated with them; MI have Jhulan, Delhi Capitals have Hemlata Kala, UP Warriorz have Anju Jain, and Mithali Raj is with Gujarat Giants. And that is what is missing in the RCB camp.
“There’s no one to make Smriti realise the potential of domestic players,” Reema highlighted.
The tournament is only a week older and there are many more matches to come. Reema opined that the moment Smriti finds out the talent of the uncapped lot and understands them, it will change the dynamics of the team in the league.
“So, the moment Smriti gets to know about her domestic players, the team will start performing well. And once she leads her team well, it will get reflected in her batting as well. Smriti jab apne players ko aur samjhegi to uski captaincy aur behtar hogi aur RCB ki ye haar jeet mein badal jayegi (RCB will bounce back once Smiriti starts understanding her players better),” Reema concluded.
RCB will look for their maiden win in the WPL 2023 on Monday night, when they square off against Delhi Capitals in match no. 11, in Mumbai.
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