The boys from Bengaluru are raring to go in the latest edition of the Indian Premier League. It will be their sixth attempt to bring glory to their town and fulfill the promise they have shown so far. They say fighters never give up and they bounce back after every defeat and prepare for the next challenge. The Royal Challengers Bangalore are a set of fighters.
Right from day one, when they were labeled a Test team, this team has surprised everyone. A team that once had warriors such as Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn, is now riding on the young shoulders of Virat Kohli.
The team has always had some big names; same is the case this time around. The ever-consistent and once-a-freelancing-T20 cricketer Christopher Henry Gayle, the new Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka - Tillakaratne Dilshan, current South Africa ODI captain - AB de Villiers, the geeky cricketer - Daniel Vettori and the smiling assassin - Muttiah Muralitharan, to name a few.
Last year it was the Gayle storm that rolled over everyone, scoring three centuries in just eight games. But it was the over dependency on Gayle that cost the team. His ballistic batsmanship would mean that others would just need to play cameos to make sure the team reaches a hefty total. This gave the other players very chances to get their eye-in or settle down for a decent outing. This turned out to be a curse, as every time Gayle failed the others had not had enough match practice and would crumble under pressure. Dilshan had a tough season and de Villiers came too far down the order to make an impact.
Kohli, the new skipper, will have to balance out the team well and make sure he finds some valuable stars this time around. In Saurabh Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara, Abhinav Mukund and Mayank Agarwal they have a strong bench.
It will be interesting to see if Pujara gets a few games. Having been around for some time now and having tasted success at the international level, the eyes will be on him to prove whether he can be as useful in the T20 format. Couple of his Test innings he did score runs at a crisp rate and well we all know that he has all the shots in the book. A good technique along with a good head on his shoulders puts him in the category of the privileged few. And like his predecessors Kallis and Dravid have shown that when it comes to coping with difficult situation these qualities turn out to be your assets and not hindrances.
Saurabh Tiwary and Mayank Agarwal both have got limited opportunities so far and have shown sparks but haven’t quite fulfilled their potential. The constant moving up and down the order has not helped their cause though. If one of them gets to bat a little higher up the order it could work to their advantage. Tiwary, who was once an India prospect and even played a couple of ODIs, will be keen to stamp his mark this time.
In the bowling department, RCB has a plethora of experience in Muralitharan, Vettori, Murali Kartik, RP Singh, Zaheer Khan and Ravi Rampaul. Youngsters like Prashant Parmeswaran, Jaydev Unadkat and Abhimanyu Mithun have a lot to gain a lot from them. Vinay Kumar has been a war horse who has been consistently putting up a decent effort every time he was played. Harshal Patel impressed a few last time around when he got a couple of games. Having given away Dale Steyn and Dirk Nannes, RCB does not have raw pace but makes up with it with experience.
Daniel Christian, Christopher Barnwell and Moises Henriques are the new faces in the all-rounders department, who can add a lot of stability and flexibility to the side.
All in all RCB is and has always been a good side with some good cricketers. The question still remains why they haven’t been able to convert that into success. A question that Vijay Mallya has been asking, a question RCB fans have been asking. Maybe this time around they will get an answer, a positive one.