AB de Villiers, Royal Challengers Bangalore
AB de Villiers AFP

M Chinnaswamy Staidum has been Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) fortress for years. Runs have come at galore at this venue. However, things changed since 2017. The surface became sluggish and it was not a belter any more. RCB, whose strength lies in their power-packed batting, struggled last season, losing 5 home matches and finishing last. Ahead of their first home game in VIVO IPL 2018, AB de Villiers’ hopes for a run-filled surface at Bengaluru.

Expressing his love for Bengaluru, de Villiers, in his column for The Times of India, wrote, “For RCB in 2018, the M Chinnaswamy stadium must become so much more than just our home stadium in Bengaluru it must once again become our fortress. I have grown to love the place the atmosphere, the history and, more than anything, the supporters who fill the grandstands every time RCB take the field.”

De Villiers went on to highlight stats on how the nature of the surface changed and how much a good track at Bengaluru may contribute to their success. He wishes the ground to re-earn its title of “the six-hitting capital of the cricketing world.”

In all the IPL tournaments up to and including 2016, the average run-rate at Chinnaswamy was 8.61 runs per over, the highest in all India; but, in 2017, this scoring rate slumped to 7.42 runs per over. These are the simple facts, he wrote. Batsmen were struggling to get going at the ground where, on one unforgettable occasion, Chris Gayle hit 175, the highest individual score ever in the IPL, and where RCB sides have amassed 263 and 248, the highest team totals in IPL history.

Unfortunately, in the IPL last year, visiting teams began to love the place as well, and too many of them left with the points. We won only one of seven matches at home, losing to MI, RPS, GL, KXIP and KKR with the Sunrisers match being abandoned. We performed poorly. No excuses. It s true the pitch did play low and slow for much of the season and 130 or 140 often seemed like it could be a winning score on the compact ground which for so long was renowned as the six-hitting capital of the cricketing world.

However, de Villiers has no clue on how the surface will play this year. He believes whatever the conditions are, RCB must adapt and “find a way to win.”