Will RCB be third time lucky? © AFP
Will RCB be third time lucky? © AFP

For the third time since IPL’s inception, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are set to contest in the final. While in 2009 they faltered against Deccan Chargers, it was Chennai Super Kings in 2011 that shattered their dream. Despite this, IPL 2016 offers them the best opportunity to win the elusive trophy. Their place in the final was confirmed after they beat Gujarat Lions (GL) in Qualifier 1 at Bengaluru. Their squad is filled with quality, even with the likes of Mitchell Starc and Samuel Badree out injured. While everyone is rightfully praising Virat Kohli for his side’s success, the performances of AB de Villiers, Shane Watson and Yuzvendra Chahal,  have been equally impressive, if not more impressive than the skipper. Full Cricket Scorecard: Gujarat Lions vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2016 Qualifier 1 at Bengaluru

RCB’s journey to the final has been filled with drama, excitement and despair, perfect ingredient’s to become a ‘Bollywood’ film. And all that’s required for them to end this topsy turvy campaign is to win the trophy. The stage has been set, the script has been written, only the icing on the cake is left.

They started off the first half of the campaign in the best possible fashion, scoring 227 runs batting first and beating Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by 45 runs. But since then, it went totally downhill. A solitary win from next five games saw the ‘Chokers’ tag get back on them. Despite having a squad filled with best Indian batsman, best South African batsman, best West Indian batsman and best T20 all-rounder, the results were baffling to say the least. READ: Wake up call for RCB batting before IPL 2016 final

But the second half of the season saw a drastic change, as they won six matches from seven to finish 2nd in the points table. Their dominance over other teams were largely at view, with their Net Run Rate at +0.932.

And now having qualified for the final, most of the praise has been directed towards skipper Kohli. His numbers are out of this world, and he his displays have every right to be applauded. But, RCB and fans alike should also appreciate the displays of de Villiers, Watson and Chahal, who have been equally impressive, if not more.

Starting off with de Villiers, there is not a superlative left to describe him. While it is a fact he isn’t on the same level in terms of  consistency as Kohli, the fear factor he possesses is much more than the RCB skipper. With 682 runs from 15 games, he has been absolutely sensational. And a strike rate of over 170 exactly justifies the destruction he causes. His match winning 79 not out against GL showed why in terms of performance, he hasn’t been any less than Kohli. READ: Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers: A club of mutual admiration

Next up is the new boy of RCB, Shane Watson. Having played every season of IPL with Rajasthan Royals (RR), he came to his new home as the best all-rounder in the T20 format. And boy hasn’t he performed! Always seen as a batting all-rounder, Watto’s bowling has the best part about him in IPL 2016. The absence of Starc left a gaping hole in RCB’s bowling unit, but Watson has made sure he filled the gap. He is the purple cap holder this season, with 20 wickets at a economy rate of 8.07. While with the bat he hasn’t been at his best, RCB wouldn’t mind his current stats. Definitely the key to RCB’s success.

And finally, the young leggie Chahal has been absolutely outstanding. With 20 wickets from 12 matches, economy rate is what keeps him behind Watson in purple cap list. Chahal’s form has seen him getting selected for India’s tour to Zimbabwe. And he thoroughly deserves it. His leg spin along with his occasional quicker one’s and wrong one’s have been troublesome for batsmen. One wonders, had RCB not dropped him for three games, how many more wickets he might have taken. Yet, the leading wicket-taker for RCB in IPL 2015 has proved his importance in this season again, and signs are that he may just become indispensable.

While no one is demeaning the hardwork and performance of Kohli, it would be seriously unfair to say he took RCB single-handedly into the finals. Yes, there were matches he single-handedly won for his side, but the above three players have stepped up equally for the team. Watson and de Villiers especially stepped up against GL, when Kohli failed, proving why they are equally important to the team as the skipper is.

(R Narayan is a reporter with CricketCountry, and is an ardent cricket and football enthusiast (big Manchester United fan). Having followed cricket since 2003, he likes high scoring matches as well as good fast bowling. His Twitter handle is @RNarayan24nov)