IPL 2019: Royal Challengers Bangalore on track for success, feels AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli are the bedrock of RCB's batting in the IPL. @AFP

Former South Africa batsman AB de Villiers feels that Royal Challengers Bangalore are on course for the Indian Premier League title that has eluded them for ten seasons, as he prepares to switch into post-retirement T20 mode with a slew of franchise commitments over the next six months.

De Villiers will lead Tshwane Spartans in the inaugural Mzansi Super League in South Africa this week, followed by a trip to the UAE as global ambassador for the new Emirates T20 League. In the new year, he will make his Bangladesh Premier League debut for Rangpur Riders and then hop back to the UAE for his first stint in the Pakistan Super League. After a few weeks of rest, de Villiers will return to India to reunite with RCB as they bid for the title in the IPL’s 11th season.

“The IPL remains the biggest T20 tournament in the world, and I can’t wait to rejoin Virat Kohli and the rest of my team-mates at Royal Challengers Bangalore, where we will all be working hard to erase the disappointments of 2018,” he wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.

“Everybody knows RCB have the potential to win the IPL, and nobody knows quite why we have tended to perform so far below that potential, but we’re not far away, and I fully expect us to be extremely competitive in 2019.”

The 2019 IPL could be preponed by a week in order to offer India some rest before the World Cup next year in England. As per the existing schedule, the IPL goes from March 29 to May 19, followed by the World Cup beginning on May 30. But as per reports from ESPNcricinfo last week, IPL 2019 could begin a week early – March 23 – so that India’s fast bowlers in particular could get a breather before they travel to England.

“There is speculation within the game about whether it will be possible for the IPL to take place in India next year, amid uncertainty about the timing of elections and all the associated implications for security arrangements,” wrote de Villiers. “In an ideal world, the IPL will always take place in India, entertaining those amazing crowds in packed stadiums, but there are wider concerns and I’m sure the correct decision will be taken.

“South Africa stepped in as hosts of the IPL in 2009, and there are rumours that if it’s not possible to stage the tournament in India next year, the matches could be played either in South Africa or the UAE. If the UAE is chosen as a venue, the groundsmen will be doing well to maintain pitches after the PSL. What is beyond doubt is that, wherever the games are staged, the IPL will provide seven weeks of fantastic cricket and exceptional entertainment.”