If one were to describe the Royal Challengers Bangalore in one word, then that word would be unpredictable. Such is the brand of cricket that they have played over the years. Every season the fans back their team by chants of 'ee sala cup namde' which means "this time the Cup is ours". But every single time, they had to finish the season with disappointment.
One could wonder how a team that consisted of superstars like Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers failed to win a single IPL title. But in the end, cricket is a team game and RCB as a team have always been inconsistent. Even in the 2016 season when Virat Kohli scored four centuries and single-handedly brought RCB within touching distance of the title, RCB could not handle their nerves in the final.
RCB have tried to address the issues in their squad and have bought some exciting players. Will this finally be the year where RCB lift their maiden IPL title? Let's check out their squad:
RCB's biggest strength has been their batting for quite some time now. Their skipper Virat is arguably the best white-ball batsman at the moment, Kohli's form will be absoultely crucial for RCB and the fans will be hopeful that he could replicate the form he had shown in the 2016 edition where he scored four centuries.
Alongside him, RCB have one of the best T20 batsmen in AB de Villiers who is looking to make a comeback to the South African white-ball setup with the T20 World Cup around the corner. RCB have been over-dependent on Kohli and De Villiers but if they both click, then that will make their road to the playoffs easier.
RCB this time have made smart additions to their teams and in places where there was needed. They bought Aaron Finch who can play at the top of the order and also in the middle order if needed. Finch has shown his versatility and after having a fantastic 2019 in limited-overs cricket, RCB might benefit from his presence.
Also see – IPL 2020 Teams
19-year-old Devdutt Padikkal has had a fantastic domestic season and could possibly be the right opening partner for Aaron Finch at the top of the order. Joshua Phillipe is another opening option besides and he has shown in the Big Bash League just what he can do at the top of the order. Chris Morris too has been a fantastic addition to the side and will play the role of the explosive finisher that RCB so badly needed.
Lack of quality Indian middle-order batsman
RCB lack the experienced middle-order Indian batsman who could rotate the strike and change gears according to the situation. The crucial gap in the middle-order which was filled at times by Moeen Ali will not be possible if RCB play Finch, de Villiers, Morris and Steyn as only four foreigners can play. Although Gurkeerat Singh Mann is an option, his inexperience in the IPL might lead to his downfall. Someone like a Parthiv Patel would then have to play in the middle-order but he has shown that he is effective at the top of the order.
Mohammad Siraj and Umesh Yadav have been expensive, especially at the death for RCB and that is surely something that has hurt them and will continue to do so especially if Kohli decides to play all three including Navdeep Saini. Lack of an experienced backup to the spinners Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal could also hurt RCB in case one of them shows poor form or gets injured.
Strong starts from the openers
One name that has risen through the ranks of Karnataka cricket especially this domestic season has been Devdutt Padikkal. The 19-year-old southpaw was absolutely sensational for Karnataka in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this season and can open alongside Finch at the top of the order. Strong starts from the openers can give Kohli and De Villiers the ease to control the game in the middle overs before the finishers like Morris do the big-hitting in the end. This formula could well work in RCB's favour to help them win their maiden IPL title.
Using the new ball to the fullest
RCB have some depth in the swing department with the likes of Morris, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn and Umesh Yadav. If they are able to pick up quick wickets in the powerplay and push the opposition on the back foot, then they have some quality in the spin department in the form of Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal to choke the batsmen in the middle overs. This could be another important factor in their bid to win the title this year.
Dependency on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers
As RCB have always been over-dependent on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, even if one of them gets injured or goes through poor form, it would cost RCB badly. Both will have to be at their very best to help RCB reach the playoffs and go on to win the title.
Dale Steyn's injury concerns
Dale Steyn has had issues with his fitness in the past couple of years and was also ruled out of the IPL last year due to an injury. RCB would want Steyn to be 100% fit because of the kind of backups that they have are Kane Richardson and Isuru Udana who are good T20 players but do not have the searing pace and accuracy of Steyn.
RCB seem to have all the ingredients to a successful team. But in the end, it all comes down to how they play together and under pressure. Will Kohli be able to finally win that all-elusive IPL title? Well, only time will tell.