Here we go again – The Indian Premier League (IPL), is set to begin its 13th season in the UAE from September 19th, 2020. After an inevitable delay due to the COVID19 pandemic, the cricketing fraternity from India and all around the world is keen on witnessing the annual T20 carnival. IPL this year is also set to have a new title sponsor, Dream 11 to grace the occasion. The league has been in and around the news for almost two months now and with all sanctions achieved, one only waits for it to commence.
Each team this season will only be allowed a total of 24 players, select support staff and only 10 net bowlers to travel along. Moreover, each player will have to undergo a strict quarantine and routine tests before training as well as due course. Having said, every single franchise, every single player and every single fan is ready to play and support his/her favorite team. Here’s a series with an individual look at the capabilities, balance, strengths and weaknesses of the eight IPL teams.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Over the 12 years of the Indian Premier League, the Royal Challengers Bangalore are the most talked about team across the globe. The team has been in the news for all the good and bad reasons both on and off the field. The team features in the IPL’s best of times and the worst of disasters, the most cherishing moments and the most forgetful events, the highest of scores and the lowest totals of all times. The Royal Challenger Bangalore fans have been through it all but have never dwindled in support for their team. It continues to be one of the most loyal fanbases to ever exist. The ‘Ee sala cup namde’ might well find meaning this year, finally.
Virat Kohli is a passionate cricketer and an animated individual on the field. He has been an excellent Indian captain known for his aggressive style and nature. He has taken the Indian team to an unchallenged No.1 spot in Tests and a Top 3 ranking in either of limited over formats. However, he hasn’t quite managed to do the same with Royal Challengers Bangalore. The team has had its own problems with the resources, combinations and the balance overall. There have been times where Kohli has made the most of his options but also times where he has failed miserably making a match off it. Having said, the never-give-up and everlasting fighting spirit of the captain is one thing to learn from the RCB captain. In a newly established set-up this year, onuses will be on Virat to deliver both as a player and as a captain.
Finalists, IPL 2009, 2011, 2016
Transfers and New Buys:
RCB decided against participating in the pre-season transfer window and decided to fill their voids in the auctions. The leg spinner Shahbaz Ahmed and all-rounder Pavan Deshpande were the only two Indians the franchise opted for. However, Bangalore paid emphasis towards the strengthening of the overseas department. Aaron Finch was picked up to solve the opening woes of the franchise. Meanwhile, his countryman Josh Philippe came in as a wicket-keeping option. The likes of all-rounders Chris Morris and Isuru Udana further balance out the lower middle order. Either of the two are also great bowlers at the death and might come handy with their deceptions on slowish UAE wickets. RCB also added foreign bowling options in the form of Dale Steyn and Adam Zampa (who replaced Kane Richardson).
With all the possible permutations and combinations possible, it leaves RCB with a choice of players to find the right balance early on once again.
Strengths, Key Players:
Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers have been the pillars of RCB for the longest of times. Though they have lacked support previously, the arrival of Aaron Finch, Josh Phillippe and a few others has brought back the confidence of the squad. Moreover, the recent domestic form of the Indian domestic talents like Devdutt Paddikkal, Pavan Deshpande, Mohammmad Siraj and Shahbaz Ahned is also a great plus to have. Playing at the Chinnaswamy, batting has always been a key to the Bangalore lineup. But this time, they have also found reinforcement in the weaker bowling department. The addition of Morris, Steyn, Zampa and Udana are all said to be well-planned and thought ones.
Especially in a UAE, where the ball is expected to arrive slower, Bangalore has gone in prepared with ample options. The riches of Chahal and Yadav from the last season as well would expect a reincarnation. In a neutral venue, it is important to start off well and the new support staff, comprising Mike Hesson and Simon Katich, are pretty confident of RCB doing just that.
The overdependence on Virat and ABD at the top with the bat has been one of RCB’s major concerns of all time. On days where either of them fails, it is important for the others in the middle order to step up. The team has shown signs of vulnerability under pressure and the opposition might be keen on accessing that. Even the bowling department has sported similar stories. Despite worthy and promising reinforcements this season, it is incumbent for everyone to know their job for the team.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have never ever won an IPL title. The fans, who have never left the team’s back, have witnessed three finals from the losing side. As they continue to hope for a win, the team is aware that it will take an inspired performance to reach the playoffs. The pivot between Kohli and ABD and the middle order holds key to RCB’s chances to grab the title this year.
Royal Challengers Bangalore Squad:
Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, Parthiv Patel, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Pavan Deshpande, Shivam Dube, Shahbaz Ahmed. Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Aaron Finch, AB de Villiers (wk), Chris Morris, Moeen Ali. Josh Philippe, Adam Zampa, Dale Steyn, Isuru Udana
ICN360’s Best Possible Bangalore XI:
Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch, AB De Villiers, Shivam Dube/Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Josh Philippe/Moeen Ali. Chris Morris, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini.