Captain Virat Kohli, while reflecting on what was yet another disappointing Indian Premier League (IPL) season for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), insisted the team can't always rely on AB de Villiers and himself to do the job with the bat.
Kohli cut a disappointed figure after RCB's 30-run defeat to Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Saturday, May 19. With the crushing loss went the Bangalore-based franchise's chances of reaching the playoffs of the ongoing season.
The skipper conceded RCB were "not up to the mark" in their must-win encounter on Saturday. Despite Kohli falling early in chase of 165 on a slowish surface at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, de Villiers led the chase from the front.
RCB were cruising at 75 for 1 before Royals' leg spinners Shreyas Gopal (16 for 4) and Ish Sodhi (31 for 1) ran through their middle order.
The likes of Moeen Ali, Mandeep Singh, Colin de Grandhomme and Sarfraz Khan walked back to the pavilion without troubling the scorers much. De Villiers hit a 35-ball 53 but it was not enough to keep RCB alive in the playoffs race.
Wanted to strengthen middle order: Kohli
"It [Saturday's defeat] was a strange one, I thought we were in a great position at one stage. 75 for 1 and the way we bundled out wasn't ideal," Kohli said.
He added: "A guy like AB de Villiers, who has got the ability to hit fours and sixes was knocking it around. We need smarter decision-making. Guys were not up to the mark. It's disappointing to see.
"The bulk of scoring responsibility and the stress cannot be on a guy like AB all the time in the middle order. Guys need to step up at the right time. We [de Villiers and I] certainly want to take up the responsibility but there have to be contributions from others as well.
"We wanted to strengthen the middle-order which hasn't happened, it hasn't been our strength and we need to do that going into the next few seasons.
"We need to be smarter with composing our team."
Only four RCB batsmen cross the 200-run mark in IPL 2018
Saturday's performances highlighted what has been a perennial issue for RCB over the years — over-reliance on de Villiers and Kohli.
The two premier batsman have done the bulk of the scoring this season as well. While the South Africa star has managed 480 runs at 53.33 in 12 matches, the skipper has scored 530 at 48.18 in 14 matches.
However, the others have failed big time with the bat. The third best season total for RCB this year is Mandeep Singh's 252. Only four of their batsman managed to cross the 200-run mark this season.
Unlike previous seasons, RCB had assembled a better-balanced side after some smart buys at the auction.
However, Kohli and the support staff struggled to figure out the right balance and before they could do so they had made it quite difficult for themselves.
If the likes of Moeen Ali, Tim Southee, and Colin de Grandhomme had got into the playing XI earlier than they did, the season could have been different for one of the most followed franchises of the cash-rich league.