The wait for their maiden IPL title has gone longer for Royal Challengers Bangalore fans with every passing year. Despite being one of the most popular sides, RCB has failed to cross the final frontier.
Bangalore have played three finals and lost all of them, most recently in 2016. In the three years that followed, they finished eighth, sixth, and eighth out of eight teams. They began strongly in 2020 but could not hold on to their form. They were knocked out in the Eliminator by Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The biggest finding for the Bangalore side in 2020 was Devdutt Padikkal, who top-scorer for them with 473 runs at the top of the order. This was a huge achievement, for Padikkal ended Kohli’s streak as Bangalore’s top scorer for four consecutive seasons. Kohli himself did not perform well in 2020 and found form only the latter stages, which often left AB de Villiers fighting a lone battle.
The injury to Chris Morris was a big blow for Bangalore. Barring Yuzvendra Chahal, their bowlers were mostly inconsistent. They recorded two big victories against KKR, which helped them pip KKR for the fourth spot on net run rate.
Royal Challengers Bangalore at auction
Bangalore released 10 players before the 2021 IPL auction. This included big guns like Morris, Moeen Ali, Aaron Finch, and Dale Steyn. They might have backed on buying back Morris at a lower price. What they had not anticipated was that Rajasthan Royals would snaffle Morris for a record INR 16.25 crores.
Bangalore then made two massive buys in Glenn Maxwell (14.25 crores) and Kyle Jamison (15 crores). Other key acquisitions included young Indian attacking batsman Mohammed Azharuddeen, for 20 lakhs. Azharuddeen recently scored a 37-ball hundred at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
New season, new combination
Kohli has already announced that he is going to open in the tournament. He will be partnering with Padikkal, who is currently recovering from Covid-19. De Villiers and Maxwell will occupy two key spots in the middle. Their Indian middle-order option looks inexperienced, with Azharuddeen, Rajat Patidar, and Sachin Baby in contention.
They can opt for two overseas all-rounders, in Dan Christian and Jamieson. This will be Jamieson’s first IPL. Whether he can justify his hefty price tag that will be interesting to see.
They can afford to go in with an all-Indian bowling line-up with Chahal, Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj, and Navdeep Saini, with overseas stars like Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa on the bench.
They will miss the promising Australian youngster Josh Philippe who withdrew before the IPL. However, they got Finn Allen as a bargain, which may be a blessing in disguise.
It is a surprise that Bangalore never delivered on the big stage. Some key strategic decisions had impacted their fate over the years. Hopefully, they can put all the failures of previous years behind and look for a new season with more optimism.
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