By Anuj Mishra
New Delhi [India], April 3 (ANI): Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), which had qualified for the playoffs in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League, will be aiming to go one step forward and clinch their first IPL title in the upcoming tournament.
The Virat Kohli-led side had finished the 2019 season at the bottom of the points table. However, they improved their performances by leaps and bounds and managed to enter the playoffs in the last IPL played in the UAE.
However, things soon went downhill as the Bengaluru-based franchise lost five consecutive games and failed to make it to the finals. Batting had never been RCB’s concern but last year’s IPL exposed the side’s top-order fragilities.
Despite having big names like Aaron Finch at the top of the order, RCB was heavily dependent on skipper Kohli and AB de Villiers. In fact, it was due to the former South African batsman that RCB got over the line in numerous thrillers.
This over-reliance on Kohli and de Villiers might have prompted the team management to rope in another gun batsman — Glenn Maxwell–this season. RCB bought the Australian star for a whopping Rs 14.25 crore and uncapped swashbuckling batsman Mohammed Azharuddeen from Kerala for his base price.
Also with Australia all-rounder Daniel Christian, who will eye his 10th title in his T20 trophy cabinet, there will less burden on Kohli and de Villiers and it looks that RCB has filled in the void created since West Indies stalwart Chris Gayle left the side in 2017.
The combination isn’t even a question when it comes to batting, as RCB have a handful of options who can feature in the playing XI. But the bowling department, especially the pace battery, has been a concern for a long time and the side has been searching for a death bowler.
Mohammed Siraj has been a revelation in the recent past in the longest format of the game but his white-ball stats tell a different story. Siraj has been notorious for leaking runs in the limited-overs format and his all-time IPL economy of 9.08 will definitely be a cause of worry for Kohli.
With the exclusion of Chris Morris, the pace bowling unit has taken a dent but RCB will hope that new recruit New Zealand fast bowler Kyle Jamieson comes good on the Indian pitches.
On the other hand, the spin bowling department seems to be perfectly taken care of by Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal. In case Christian doesn’t feature in playing XI, one might see Daniel Sams and Jamieson both leading the pace attack.
RCB, however, need to make sure that if they play Jamieson, the New Zealand pacer must bowl in the Powerplay with the new ball to make early inroads. The Bengaluru-based franchise will also be hoping that left-handed Devdutt Padikkal, who was brilliant for RCB in the last season, once again comes good and score a plethora of runs at the top of the order.
RCB will be beginning their tournament campaign in the opener against Mumbai Indians on April 9 in Chennai and a good start against the defending champions is all that Kohli and Co. would hope for in their bid to lay the platform for a top finish.
RCB squad: Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, Finn Allen (wk), AB de Villiers (wk), Pavan Deshpande, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Daniel Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, KS Bharat (ANI)
By Anuj Mishra