IPL 2021 team watch: A chance for Royal Challengers Bangalore to script a new story

Vital statistics

Owners: Diageo India Private Limited

Captain: Virat Kohli

Star man: AB de Villiers

Coach: Simon Katich

Home ground: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

Best finish: Second place (2009, 2011 and 2016)

Dubai: The Royal Challengers Bangalore have always been one of the glamorous sides in the Indian Premier League. Helmed by the Indian captain Virat Kohli, they have had some heavyweights like Chris Gayle, Mitchell Starc and AB de Villiers in their ranks. Yet, their cupboard is bare after 13 seasons.

Runners-up in 2009, 2011 and 2016, Bangalore endured a couple of wretched seasons before an improved showing last year. A year that Kohli expected to go Bangalore’s way. That optimism seemed misplaced. Despite a mixed bag of results, Bangalore made the play-offs only to fall to the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the eliminator.

There were positives from the outings in the UAE. The rise of the young brigade had been a huge bonus. Debutant Devdutt Padikkal was prolific enough to win the Emerging Player award with an aggregate of 473 runs. Pace bowlers Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj turned in displays that fetched them India caps. So did allrounder Washington Sundar.

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Siraj came away with the figures of 4-2-8-3 with a superb exhibition of swing bowling against the Kolkata Knight Riders. It was a spell that enabled him to become the first bowler in IPL history to bowl two maiden overs. And Saini seemed to have mastered the art of nailing yorkers. His clever mix of slower deliveries helped show down the run deluge in the slog overs, a traditional weak spot for the Bangalore team.

Oddly enough, Chris Morris, who also bowled tight spells at the death, was released. And the South African fast bowler went on to become the most expensive overseas signing with a Rs 162.5 million ($ 2.25 million) contract from the Rajasthan Royals. Australia’s Kane Richardson should take over the role from Morris this season.

Bangalore have also released Dale Steyn, Isuru Udana, Aaron Finch and Moeen Ali. Josh Philippe withdrew. So what does Bangalore have for 2021?

De Villiers is still around and continues to bat astonishingly. Glen Maxwell, Dan Christian and Kyle Jamieson are interesting buys. Maxwell’s big-hitting skills are phenomenal, but rarely have they been showcased in the IPL. This is why Punjab Kings (the former Kings XI Punjab) let him go. If coach Simon Katich can unlock Maxwell’s potential, he could provide the X-factor for Bangalore.

Christian, a Twenty20 specialist from Australia, is a big-hitting allrounder who bowls medium pace. Jamieson is a 6 feet 8-inch pacer from New Zealand with limited international exposure. Saini, Siraj and leggie Yuzvendra Chahal form the base for a good attack, yet the bowling looks a bit undercooked.

In a tournament that stretches over 50 games in two months, sustained performances are critical to success. That has been the problem for Bangalore. Bad losses in crucial matches have ruined some fine wins. It has been Bangalore’s IPL story.

Can Kohli author a new script? He will need all the help he can get. The Bold Army or the 12th Man Army won’t be at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, but they will be cheering Bangalore from their homes.

It’s time RCB provided them with a reason to celebrate. Especially at a time when COVID-19 has eroded much of their joy.

SQUAD

Virat Kohli (captain), Rajat Patidar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Adam Zampa, Daniel Sams, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Sachin Baby, Finn Allen, AB de Villiers, Navdeep Saini, Devdutt Padikkal, Kane Richardson, Kyle Jamieson, Suyash Prabhudessai, Kona Srikar Bharat, Pavan Deshpande, Washington Sundar, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell and Dan Christian.



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