AB de Villiers (L), Virat Kohli (c) and Yuzvendra Chahal (AFP Photo)
AB de Villiers (L), Virat Kohli (c) and Yuzvendra Chahal (AFP Photo)

Will 2019 be the year of Royal Challengers Bangalore? Or will it be another IPL season of missed opportunities? They do have some of the top names of the trade capable of turning it around on their days. But will they fire in unison to land the trophy they came close thrice to winning in the past before slipping at the final hurdle?

We will get to know the answers soon but here are the five key players whom RCB will rely on to deliver the goods and take them all the way through to the title glory. (READ: RCB continue hunt for maiden title)

Virat Kohli [IPL record: M-163, R-4948, HS-113, 100s-4, 50s-34, SR-130.76]

RCB has had their fare shares of ups and downs. Consistency has been missing but one thing that has stayed with them throughout the 11-year journey is the presence of talisman Kohli. When he was bought by the Bangalore franchise in 2008, Kohli was yet to be the beast he has moulded into. It took some time before he blossomed, but the faith has paid rich dividends. In 2016, he single-handedly pushed them into the summit clash scoring almost 1000 runs during the season apart from hitting four centuries. Once, again, his form will be key. One of the most complete batsmen of his generation, Kohli can do both – consolidate and accelerate at will and that too while going for proper cricketing shots. Cricketers thrive on momentum and for captain Kohli this season has an added motivation – the ICC World Cup which will start few days after IPL. A productive season could see him carry the winning momentum and form to England.

AB de Villiers [IPL record: M-141, R-3953, HS-133*, 100s-3, 50s-28, SR-150.93]

It’s been close to a year since De Villiers stunned everyone with his decision to retire from international cricket, especially a year before the World Cup. There have been few murmurs since then of him making a U-turn for the marquee event but the big-hitting South African has confirmed he’s happily retired. Not that he has lost any sheen in his batting since quitting international cricket. He has been offering his services as a T20 specialist and has played in Bangladesh Premier League, Pakistan Super League, proving he hasn’t lost the touch. Last season he was RCB’s second highest run-getter after Kohli with six half-centuries while averaging 53.33. He has traumatized best bowlers in the business in the past and there’s no reason why he cannot do the same this season as well.

Marcus Stoinis [IPL record: M-19, R-262, HS-52, Wkts-13]

Stoinis was Big Bash League’s third highest run-getter with (533 runs at 53.30) apart from 14 wickets from 13 matches. It was a surprise why Kings XI Punjab would let go of such a quality allrounder during the trading window. However, KXIP’s loss is RCB’s gain. And Kohli is fully aware of the potential the Australian has. During the recently-concluded limited-overs series against Australia at home, the India captain pointed his fingers at Stoinis when asked whom he considered the biggest threat. He made his international debut in 2015 but failed to leave a lasting impact before coming back in the reckoning with a strong show in domestic cricket. Since then, Stoinis has established himself as a dependable allrounder, time and again proving his big-hitting abilities. He’s proven his ability as an opener and RCB can ask him to open the innings for Kohli to bat at his preferred No. 3 spot.

Yuzvendra Chahal [IPL record: M-70, Wkts-82, BBM-4/25, Eco-7.77]

In the recent years, wrist spinners have made rapid strides in international cricket. Their effectiveness has come to the fore in limited-overs cricket providing teams with a reliable wicket-taking option. Chahal has established himself as a regular in India’s limited-overs setup. With another wristspinner [Kuldeep Yadav], Chahal forms one-half of a deadly bowling pair. In a recent limited-overs series against Australia at home, he didn’t have the best of times and leaked runs. He would be eager to prove that was a mere aberration. Last season, he wasn’t as effective as he would have liked to be. That could have been due to the inability of other spinner [read Washington Sundar] failing to complement his effort. Like fast bowlers, spinners too hunt in pairs. Chahal would hope he finds another Kuldeep in RCB colours.

Shivam Dube [T20 record: M-20, R-202, Wkts-14]

A day prior to the IPL 2018 auction in December, allrounder Dube gave a timely reminder to the franchisees of his power-hitting with five sixes in as many deliveries during a Ranji Trophy match for Mumbai. Naturally, the next day when his name came up for grabs, the franchisees fought hard to secure his services with RCB winning the race and that too for a cool INR 5 crore. Last year, he caught attention hitting Pravin Tambe for five straight sixes in Mumbai T20 league before taking 13 wickets with his seam bowling – the fourth best for Mumbai – in a successful Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign. In the Ranji Trophy, he was Mumbai’s top wicket-taker (23 at 23.21) and second highest run-getter (632 at 52.66). He just played two matches in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. His impressive record over the domestic season gone by surely makes him one of the players to watch out for.