AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav IPL 2019
(From left) AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Yuzvendra Chahal and Umesh Yadav (Agencies)

Twice in three seasons Royal Challengers Bangalore have now finished with the wooden spoon. Despite boasting of some of the biggest names in modern day cricket, a performance of such magnitude should evoke nothing less than a shock. But a deeper analysis would reveal it’s a pattern. While other teams have realised that long-term success isn’t built concentrating on just one area, RCB seem to ignore it with disdain. The result? Eighth position among the eight participating teams of IPL 2019.

Not that it was entirely the fault of the players. Luck also didn’t go in their favour either. RCB captain Virat Kohli lost 10 tosses plus injury to a couple of players (Nathan Coulter-Nile and Dale Steyn) also hurt them in the bigger scheme of things. Amidst the rubble, was their anything positive they took from a forgettable season? Let’s take a look

IPL 2019 record: P: 14 W: 15 L: 8 NR: 1 Pts: 11 NRR: -0.607

High point

Following a disastrous start to the season that all but sealed their fate, RCB managed to keep themselves in the playoff hunt with a late revival. After six straight defeats, they won four of their next five matches – the first of which against Kings XI Punjab helped them avoid an unwanted record of posting seven straight defeats at the start of a season which would have been the worst by any team in IPL history. However, Mumbai Indians condemned them to a seventh defeat right afterwards. They quickly bounced back with three wins in a row that too against the likes of early pace setters Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings and a double over KXIP.

Low point

The start to the season. Their season opener, also tournament opener, was against the defending champions CSK. The much-hyped showdown between Kohli and MS Dhoni came to a whimpering end when RCB were shot out for a mere 70 in 17.1 overs. Not that CSK sailed to the chase – they made 71/3 in 17.4 overs in what was a difficult track to bat on. An umpiring howler followed in their next game against MI when S Ravi didn’t spot Lasith Malinga overstepping while bowling the final delivery as RCB needed 7 to win. MI won by six runs leaving Kohli seething over the umpiring error. The third needed no such controversy as Jonny Bairstow and David Warner shredded their attack, hitting century apiece in a big 118-run win. They lost the battle of bottom-dwellers too allowing Rajasthan Royals to open their account. Two more defeats followed, and they equalled the record for the worst start to an IPL season.

Captaincy verdict

Kohli would often cut a sorry figure while witnessing his bowlers taken apart. They made several questionable selection choices. Shimron Hetmyer, Shivam Dube – two youngsters on whom they splurged during IPL auction – weren’t given consistent run. They played a combined nine matches. Fast bowler Mohammed Siraj, despite his poor form, ended up playing nine matches whereas allrounder Washington Sundar appeared in just three matches. Moeen Ali, despite showing promise with his bowling, was underutilised. So, not just in their inconsistent performances, RCB suffered due to some questionable calls as well.

Most Valuable Player

With five half-centuries in 13 innings, the most by any RCB batsman this season, AB de Villiers proved to be their most bankable player. He finished as their second-highest run-getter (behind Kohli) with 442 runs at 44.20 and a strike-rate of 154.

Major disappointment(s)

Fast bowlers. The duo of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj leaked runs and failed to take wickets. The performance of Umesh must have left Kohli thoroughly disappointed as he was to be the leader of the attack having put up excellent performances in the previous two seasons. His ability to pick wickets inside Powerplay overs went missing this time. He managed eight wickets in 11 matches at 46.37 and an economy of 9.80. Siraj, in seven matches, managed seven wickets at an economy of 9.55. His struggles were highlighted when he bowled a high-full toss to KKR’s Andre Russell and was taken out of attack midway through the over. The delivery disappeared into the stands for a six as Russell lead an incredible run-chase.

Verdict

It’s becoming a cliché now. RCB bank on their batting superstars. Too much. On Kohli and De Villier. They don’t have a reliable bowling attack. Barring legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal and youngster Navdeep Saini to some extent, others failed miserably. They were a bit unlucky – Nathan Coulter-Nile missed the entire season due to fitness issue. When they called up Dale Steyn, he changed their bowling landscape drastically. However, he played just two matches before being ruled out due to a shoulder issue. Also, they don’t have one reliable bowler who can plug the leak in death-overs. Clearly, they need to overhaul their bowling attack in order to put up a better claim next season. They finished with 11 points – SRH became the first team to make playoffs with just 12 points. Enough evidence of how one win could have changed the fortunes.

Statistics

Most run: Virat Kohli – 464 at 33.14, Strike-rate: 141.46, 50s: 2, 100: 1

Most wickets: Yuzvendra Chahal – 18, Economy: 7.82, Strike-rate: 16.4, BBI: 4/38

Highest individual score: Virat Kohli – 100 vs KKR, Kolkata

Best bowling in an innings: Yuzvendra Chahal 4/38 vs MI, Bengaluru