Considering the star studded squad Royal Challengers Bangalore have had over the past few seasons of the IPL, it is indeed surprising that they have not been crowned IPL champions even once even though they played the finals twice and lost.
The team management who were shrewd enough to have seen the potential in a 19 year old Virat Kohli (when he was the only player they retained in 2009) have also built up a formidable team that can beat anyone on their day but there remains the question mark over whether the team can win the really games when the stakes are high and so far, their losses in the two finals-one in 2009 and the other in 2011- have not made them look convincing.
This year they have reshaped the team a bit once again and would like to be champions under newly minted Indian test captain Virat Kohli, who would surely like to make a point.
Virat Kohli (c), Varun Aaron, Sean Abbott, Abu Nechim, S. Badrinath, Shishir Bhavane, Manvinder Bisla, Yuzvendra Chahal, AB de Villiers, Ashok Dinda, Chris Gayle, Iqbal Abdullah, Dinesh Karthik, Sarfraz Khan, Nic Maddinson, Mandeep Singh, Adam Milne, Harshal Patel, Rilee Russouw, Darren Sammy, Sandeep Warrier, Jalaj Saxena, Mitchell Starc, Yogech Takawale, David Wiese, Vijay Zol.
The first thing that stares out at you from a cursory glance of that squad are the names – Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers; three batsmen who can put a game beyond the opposition if Royal Challengers Bangalore bat first or chase anything that the opposition might set. Additionally, considering the fact that there are only 20 overs to play with it is highly likely that one of these three would almost always score some vital runs unless of course they are woefully out of form.
Gayle and Virat gives RCB the explosive firepower at the top of the order that can plunder runs at an alarming rate and if they stay at the crease for more than 10 overs then the opposition can hardly ever come back into the game. ‘AB’ along with new big money buy Dinesh Karthik, can then give the team the final push in the rear end of the innings and if a stiff chase is on then those two would be the sort of players that any team would want out there at the crease.
However, that is not all since RCB have now added a calming influence like S. Badrinath in their squad who would be able to take stock of the situation if they lose early wickets and that is a role he had performed admirably for CSK in the past. He adds a backbone to the batting order. The addition of enterprising South Africans David Weise and Rilee Russouw would also has also provided the team with a fall back option if for any reason the first choice batsmen fail to deliver.
RCB would also like to use the all round talents of West Indian Darren Sammy who is an expert at blasting quick fire 30s towards the end of the innings, however it remains to be seen whether he gets enough game time.
Virat Kohli had stated in the past that he would like a better roster of fast bowlers in order to stem the huge scores that are usually piled up against his side but that did not happen last year. However, in Mitchell Starc, RCB have an outstanding bowler who could do serious damage while Abdullah and Chahal would be a great of spinners to fall back on in the middle overs. These 3 bowlers would be vital to RCB if they are to seriously challenge for the title.
In spite of their visible strength in-depth in the squad there still appears to be a problem in the bowling department since the bowling looks the same even though they have brought in Sean Abbott and Adam Milne.
The reason why their bowling, which was torn to shreds quite frequently last season, would still remain a blind spot for RCB is because they won’t be able to field their shining new recruits due to the overseas cap in the starting eleven and the bowling attack would still have to be made up of players like Varun Aaron and/or Ashok Dinda. The last two bowlers mentioned recorded some of the highest economy rates in the IPL last season and were responsible for the huge totals that teams often put up against them.
Of course, you could say that it might be possible for them to drop one of the overseas batsmen in favour of one of the bowlers mentioned above but that would weaken the batting and simply put, you simply can’t make Gayle or AB sit in the dugout since their match winning potential is too high. The faster bowler would simply need to up their game otherwise RCB’s campaign can go up in flames once again.
Key Players: –
Captain Virat Kohli and opener Chris Gayle would again be the key players in the batting order since they would be the ones who would set the tone for the innings runs. If these two are in any kind of form then RCB would not have to worry about their batting at all since more often than not they would help them in setting above par scores or help them in immensely when they are chasing a stiff target.
Among the bowlers, Mitchell Starc is the key as his four overs would be immensely hard to score off for any batsman as demonstrated during the World Cup and if he proves to be as effective then the pressure would be on the batsmen to score heavily off the other bowlers; which if often a risky strategy.
Virat Kohli, the captain who would not only want to score big in the tournament in order to make up for his quiet tournament last year but also want to make a statement as a captain.
By: Soham Samaddar