Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting feels the absence of KL Rahul has played a decisive role in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s disastrous performance this season. The legendary batsman also said that Royal Challengers skipper Virat Kohli has done nothing much to inspire his team in the ongoing season.

KL Rahul was one of Royal Challenger’s most important players last season when the Virat Kohli-led side made it to the summit clash where they were beaten by Sunrisers Hyderabad. With 397 runs in 14 matches, he was the third highest run-getter for his team just behind Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.

However, the Royal Challengers star could not get a chance to replicate his performance this season, as he was ruled out of the entire tournament with a shoulder injury. What would hurt the Royal Challengers, even more, is the form Rahul was in during the Test series against Australia just before the IPL.

The Karnataka batsman finished the four-match series as India’s second highest run-getter with 393 runs with the help of six fifties.

Rahul has been badly missed by the Bangalore-based outfit, as they are languishing at the bottom of the table after managing just a couple of wins in 13 matches. The finalists of last year were the first team to bow out this season and have been shoddy in all departments. The poor form of their holy trinity- Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers- have only increased their woes.

And while Ponting admitted that the form of other batsmen has been instrumental in Bangalore’s dismal campaign, he said Rahul’s absence was a massive loss for them. At the same time, he also criticised the Bangalore-based outfit for not having a good replacement for the injured Rahul.

“KL Rahul is a massive loss for them,” Ponting told “He had a terrific back-end to last season. He did some amazing things last year so him not being at the top has been a big loss.

“He and Virat were a pretty formidable opening pair last year. You couldn’t argue with what they did last year and they’ve played a bit of cricket with each other in the Indian Test team for the few months leading into the IPL. So they would have had a good dynamic there at the top of the order and unfortunately, that’s been missing for them. But you have to have replacements for just about every position so that’s where they’ve come undone,” he added.

Ponting further said that the form of Kohli and de Villiers has exposed the team’s over-reliance on their star players. Both de Villiers and Kohli have failed to fire this season, scoring 216 and 250 runs in nine matches respectively. Ponting also feels Chris Gayle and Shane Watson’s indifferent performance only made it tough for the team to do well.

Gayle has managed just 152 runs in eight matches while Watson has scored a paltry 67 runs in addition to taking four wickets in seven matches so far.

“Their big name players just aren’t standing up like they did last year,” Ponting said. “They got on an amazing roll at the back end of last year’s tournament when Kohli was playing out of his skin, de Villiers was playing well, Gayle was chipping in and Watson was doing a good job with bat and ball.

“But so far Kohli has done next to nothing, there’s been flashes in the pan from Gayle and AB de Villiers, but the consistency just hasn’t been there.

“Watson’s the other one who hasn’t had that consistency and match-winning performances this season that he’s had in previous seasons. And he’s been in and out of the side and up and down the batting order to a degree. They’ve got some issues there. It’s the same conversation we have about them every year; they rely on too few, as they have done for a while. Quite often those few have been quite consistent and been good enough to win quite a lot of games for them. But this season it just hasn’t panned out that way,” the legendary batsman added.

The Royal Challengers, meanwhile, will have a chance to bow out of the tournament with their head held high if they manage to win their last game against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday (May 14).

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