Bad bowling, despicable batting. That sums up Rajasthan Royals’ show on Wednesday night.

Royal Challengers Bangalore won the toss, which immediately meant that they were the most likely winners. The spin of the coin has a big say in this format. But Rajasthan simply did not turn up for the eliminator on Wednesday night in Pune.

Abject batting failure

Chasing 180 always gives the bowling side the advantage. Still, the Royals had depth in their batting line-up. Their middle and lower middle order have faced crunch situations before. Unfortunately, though, they didn’t have enough practice. In this IPL, Rajasthan has chased just five times, winning thrice.

However, without a solid partnership there was little hope. Shane Watson, fresh off a century in the final league game against Kolkata Knight Riders, fell cheaply. So did Sanju Samson, Steve Smith, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, James Faulkner and Stuart Binny. A deep batting line-up but not one decent score to show.

The Rajasthan Royals were spineless. Such inconsistency has plagued them in this tournament, and it hurt when it mattered the most. All this with Mitchell Starc, Bangalore’s strike bowler, bowling with a troubled back.

None of the batsmen put their hand up. Samson found it hard to time the ball, and by the time Smith walked in at No. 4, the pressure had mounted. Wild swings at the deliveries gave Bangalore more wickets.

Ajinkya Rahane offered some resistance, but played defensively. Bangalore were more than happy to drive him into his shell and then dismiss him when the pressure mounted. So, is that Orange Cap really worth anything? Rahane was very passive and his lack of aggression hurt the chase badly.

Rajasthan were bowled out in 19 overs, not even last till the end.  Not that their bowling had much to be happy about.

The bowling: from good to dismal

The Bangalore unit has been heavily dependent on its top order. Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers have been the driving force of the side. Getting them out for cheap adds immense pressure on the inexperienced middle order.

Bangalore were easing into a solid opening partnership when Dhawal Kulkarni’s smartness got him the wicket of Chris Gayle. Seeing Gayle walking down the track during his delivery stride, Kulkarni adjusted the length of the delivery and castled the batsman. Kulkarni then dismissed Kohli softly, taking the return catch off a mistimed flick.

Kulkarni went for runs initially. He is not an express bowler, and he cannot boast of his variations. He heavily relies on the position of the seam, and on being flexible with line and length. On a green top, Kulkarni got the right amount of bounce. And skipper Steve Smith used his quota of four overs in the opening half of the innings to keep Bangalore at bay.

Smith employed four bowlers in the first four overs to keep the batsmen unsettled. Shuffling the bowlers around keeps the batsmen unsettled and controls the run flow. But it also reduces the probability of getting a wicket. Bowlers tend to have better chances of a wicket after their first over since they have settled and know the pitch by then.

However, the royalty in the Rajasthan attack soon faded as AB de Villiers and Mandeep Singh stitched together the partnership of the innings.

Smith’s strategy against de Villiers started in right earnest. The South African was tempted with spin and also a slip was in place. But de Villiers rose to the occasion, and fielders were soon sent on a leather hunt.

The Royals were also guilty of allowing Mandeep Singh to settle quickly. The young batsman was playing only his sixth match of the tournament and was the evident weak link in the batting. But it was Mandeep who got the ball rolling for RCB before de Villiers joined in.

In a space of a few overs, the Royals had undone their advantage. They were taken for 120 runs in their final ten overs, and a ridiculous 86 in their final five.

Ankit Sharma’s slow-left spin gave de Villiers enough time to get back on the crease and dispatch it to a place of his choice. It was purely the lack of experience that was working against Ankit. James Faulkner further dented his reputation as a bowler. His slower deliveries have become predictable and he has just not been able to get his act together this season. But you can bowl well from memory only so long.

Watson gave away both wides and loose deliveries. His frustration was visible, but he only had himself to blame. The Royals yielded five wides – that’s not only five extra runs but also five extra deliveries. When two in-form batsmen are set at the crease, these freebies count.

Once de Villiers is set, the opposing team can only hope he makes an error and gifts his wicket. Thankfully for the Royals, he was run-out with six balls to spare. But it didn't matter in the end.