Virat Kohli is the biggest strength of Royal Challengers Bangalore © IANS
Royal Challengers Bangalore have a strong side yet again, but a few chinks in the armour may hold them back. Virat Kohli-led Bangalore have added the likes of Muttiah Muraliltharan, Albie Morkel and Yuvraj Singh in their squad for the IPL 7 season. Nishad Pai Vaidya previews Bangalore’s chances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have always had a dangerous unit — full of match-winners who can steal the game single handedly. However, an Indian Premier League (IPL) title has evaded them over the years despite all the strength in their line-up. The two-time finalists are a formidable opposition on their day, but have often failed in crunch situations. As has been the case in previous years, they have stacked up their armoury yet again at the IPL 2014 auctions and are ready to challenge the rest when the tournament begins in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on April 16.
The Bangalore team management should be lauded for their foresight. Prior to the 2011 season, they decided to retain a young Virat Kohli, a player who was gradually growing in confidence and stature. Three years down the line, they have in him, one of the best batsmen in the world who is in the form of his life. Kohli has had a stellar run over the last two years and is obviously the fulcrum that holds the batting together. As a captain, he would have a lot to prove considering the fact that he is the vice-captain of the national team. His quick thinking would be tested in pressure situations. He has captained Bangalore for the better part of the last two years and that experience should help him when coupled with his more matured demeaour.
Key Indian Players
Kohli is certainly the biggest asset Bangalore have in their Indian roster. His form would be crucial at No 3 as he can guide the innings in the midst of players known to take the attack from ball one. But, there would be a lot of eyes on Yuvraj Singh. The southpaw has been termed as the villain of India’s defeat in the ICC World T20 2014 final and he has a lot to prove. A good season could do wonders for his career and that is something he would target.
Key Foreign Players
Two men standout here: Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers. Gayle wasn’t at his best during the World T20, but everyone knows that the IPL is his own turf. Bowlers better beware if he gets going. This tournament may actually give him more freedom and he may feel under lesser pressure. In the middle, they have de Villiers who can turn the game and give that finishing touch to the innings. While Gayle and Kohli usually set things up at the top, it is de Villiers who is the calm finisher. He is by far the best batsman across all formats and can fearless take on the best bowlers. The other important man is Albie Morkel. He is a good addition to this side and can be that utility player in this format. Muttiah Muralitharan is also in the side as the off-spinner.
Other Indian Players
Bangalore have Parthiv Patel, who is perhaps the biggest name in the Indian lot apart from the big stars. He will don the gloves for his side and in all likelihood, should open the batting with Gayle. Yogesh Takawale has been picked, but would have to fight with Parthiv for a spot in the team. Then they have the Kenyan batsman Tanmay Mishra, who plays as a domestic player by virtue of his Indian passport. There are many other Indian bowlers like Ashok Dinda, Varun Aaron, Shadab Jakati, Harshal Patel and Sandeep Warrier.
The batting is undoubtedly Bangalore’s biggest strength. It has to be when you have the T20 marauder in Gayle and two of the best batsmen in the world in Kohli and de Villiers. With Parthiv and Yuvraj coming in, they have a very strong top five. If Morkel plays, then imagine the batting order. Now who would want to bowl to this dangerous batting line-up?
An over-reliance on their batting may be an issue. Bangalore have numerous bowlers in their side but they can be expensive. Dinda and Aaron can take wickets but can leak runs, something one doesn’t need in this format. Somehow, Bangalore have to fit in Mitchell Starc and Ravi Rampaul to strengthen the fast bowling department. And if they have to fit in someone like a Muralitharan, Morkel may have to be left out. That is an area which would give the Bangalore franchise some headaches and one won’t be surprised if it takes them a few games to work things out.
Bangalore have been runners-up in 2009 and 2011. They had a disastrous maiden season in 2008, but then picked up. In the last two seasons however, they have failed to qualify into the play-offs despite being dominant at one stage in the tournament.
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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)