Royal Challengers Bangalore has been one of the most popular franchises since the inception of the Indian Premier League. It must be pretty difficult being a fan of the team because of its not so good record over the years. Every year the fans as well the team hope for a trophy. But each time they had to face disappointment despite reaching the final 3 times.
Virat Kohli has proved to be a brilliant captain while leading the Indian cricket team. Yet when he leads the IPL franchise, he ends up on the losing end more often than not. They start every season with great hopes. Then, after doing well in patches, they don’t really capitalize on that. RCB has made it to the playoffs just 5 times across 12 seasons.
But all that’s in the past. This year, they do have a realistic chance. It might sound surprising to a few. But there are several factors that suggest that the Kohli-led team might actually go the distance this time. The league being shifted to the UAE has changed the dynamics of all the teams. RCB could benefit the most from that move.
The Aaron Finch impact
The Challengers have added Aaron Finch to their camp this year. With a bid of INR 4.4 crore, it must be considered an absolute steal from the franchise. Finch has been leading the Australian white-ball side for quite some time and has done a pretty fine job at that. He is an absolute giant of the game as far as the shortest format of the game is concerned.
The right-hander has featured in 75 IPL games so far and averages 25.93 at a strike rate of 130.7. But his international record in the format is amongst the best. In 64 T20Is, he has an average of 38.44 and strikes at 154.65. He is ranked No.3 in the world in the ICC Rankings which is the best amongst the RCB batsmen. Even Virat Kohli is ranked ninth.
RCB used to have Chris Gayle at the top who had a huge impact on the team. Finch is in the same league as he can start smashing from ball one. The opener handles both pacers as well as spinners well and has very little weakness. However, the biggest advantage that he brings is leadership experience. The trio of Finch, Kohli, and AB de Villiers would form the core of leadership which would benefit especially under pressure situations.
The dream pair
There isn’t a better batting pair to watch in world cricket than Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. The football fans aren’t privileged enough to watch Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo playing together. But it’s the fortune of cricket that these two have been putting on a spectacle batting together for a number of years for RCB.
Yes, there is nothing new in this. They have been there in the same team for a number of years and yet the results haven’t gone their way. But it’s too big a pair not to talk about every year. The team relies heavily on these two to deliver the goods. And they haven’t really disappointed and have shouldered the responsibility of the batting.
As they say, enjoy till it lasts. AB de Villiers has already retired from international cricket. You never know how long the 36-year-old would retain his supreme powers with the bat. Once again, the onus will be on him and Virat. With Finch also joining them, this becomes the core of the batting unit.
Over the years, Royal Challengers Bangalore have relied heavily on the top order as far as the batting is concerned. The lower middle-order hasn’t been able to stand up when the top order failed. But this season, they have a flurry of all-rounders who could end the innings in a canter.
Chris Morris can actually make a huge impact. He is known for his big strokes and can be useful with the bat during the slog overs. Plus, he is more than useful with the ball too. The South African can notch up a decent pace and bowls well at the death too. He is capable of winning a number of games for the team on his own.
Along with him, there are others like Moeen Ali, Pawan Negi, Shivam Dube, Gurkeerat Singh, and Washington Sundar. All of them are equally capable of playing the dual role of batting and bowling. A number of options to choose from is a good problem to have.
The all-important bowlers
Batting has never been a problem for RCB. They have always turned up as absolute monsters with the bat capable of chasing down any score. They have put up several big scores on the board and yet have ended up losing. It’s because the bowlers haven’t been able to back up the good work done by the batsmen.
Bowling at the death has been the biggest problem. Morris can sort out that issue to some extent. Dale Steyn needst to be monitored closely. He still has the pace but does he have the still same intensity? Only time will tell whether Steyn produces his best. Though Umesh Yadav is a wicket-taker yet he can be costly at times. But he brings with him heaps of experience. Navdeep Saini is an upcoming star in the pace department. There would be some keen eyes on him this year. Isuru Udana, the Sri Lankan pacer, could well be the defining bowler for the team because of a bag of tricks he possesses.
Spin can play a huge part in the UAE. The surfaces might slow down as the league progresses. So, the team that has good spinners would start to dominate. RCB is blessed to have Yuzvendra Chahal who has been the standout bowler for a number of years. He has been superb not just for the franchise but also for the Indian team. Adam Zampa comes in with some good international form and could be useful too.
Multiple factors seem to be in favor of Royal Challengers Bangalore. No one would want to win this year more than the skipper Virat Kohli himself. He has seen it all in his glittering career but only an IPL trophy has eluded him. However, he might just lift his maiden silverware in 2020.