The Royal Challengers remain the perennial underachievers of the Indian Premier League having never lifted the trophy in 13 previous editions. They have always boasted the game’s biggest names, have made the final on three occasions, but have consistently fallen short. They are a side that can produce brilliance, but equally can fold meekly.
Last season RCB played some terrific cricket but went out at the Eliminatorstage of the playoffs, beaten by Sunrisers Hyderabad after finishing fourth in the league phase.
Mike Hesson (director of cricketing operations) has attempted to freshen things up as the franchise released 10 players. That freed up money to spend big at the IPL 2021 auction. They brought in big Kiwi pace bowler Kyle Jamieson at RS 15 crore, Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell at RS 14 crore, but potentially the cleverest buy was another Australian in Dan Christian at RS 4.8 crore. Christian captained Sydney Sixers to the Big Bash trophy and Notts Outlaws to the T20 Blast in England.
Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL Record
Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Pavan Deshpande, Shahbaz Ahamad, Harshal Patel, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddin, Kyle Jamieson, Dan Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, KS Bharat, Finn Allen.
Virat Kohli (captain), Mike Hesson (director of cricketing operations), Simon Katich (head coach), Sanjay Bangar (batting consultant), Adam Griffin (bowling consultant), Sridharan Sriram (spin bowling coach)
AUCTION ACTIVITY 2021
INS: Kyle Jamieson (RS 15.00 crore), Glenn Maxwell (Rs 14.25 crore), Dan Christian (RS 4.80 crore), Sachin Baby (Rs 20 lakh), Rajat Patidar (Rs 20 lakh), Mohammed Azharuddin (Rs. 20 lakh), Suyash Prabhudesai (Rs 20 lakh), Kona Srikar Bharat (Rs 20 lakh).
OUTS: Aaron Finch, Chris Morris, Isuru Udana, Moeen Ali, Pawan Negi, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Shivam Dube, Dale Steyn, Umesh Yadav (all released), Parthiv Patel (retired), Josh Phillippe (withdrawn for personal reasons).
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE’S CHANCES in 2021
RCB have spent big to achieve success this season but it is not without risk and could backfire. The big-money signing of 26-year-old Kyle Jamieson is a punt on his stellar performances for New Zealand, but much of his success has come on home surfaces where the ball swings. He is unlikely to get that kind of assistance on Indian tracks and there is always pressure on high price rookies.
Glenn Maxwell can be hit and miss. Virat Kohli is a captain that leads with emotion and that doesn’t always work in the pressure cooker of a T20 match. And RCB has much of their budget paying his wages and those of AB de Villiers that they absolutely must perform. Again, they are two of the best players in the world, so it is not wasted money.
But the RCB teams of old have been less than the sum of their parts. For them to take a first IPL title the new boys must hit the ground running and the leadership group of Hesson, Katich and Kohli have to find the winning formula that has always eluded them before.
VIRAT KOHLI is the best all-format batsman in the world and is always the prized wicket for any opponents. His ability to go through the gears and destroy any bowling attack is the stuff of future legends, but it will be a blow to his ego that he has never managed to land an IPL title for RCB. He has received criticism for his sometimes hot-headed, up and at ‘em style of leadership and adding a trophy lifting season to his CV would be a long way to proving his credentials. Kohli made 466 runs last season at a strike-rate of 121.35 as he took responsibility to steer RCB through. It is a measure of his powers that he will have been disappointed with that return. The 32-year-old is central to RCB’s hopes and if he can galvanise his team to overperform RCB could find themselves in the winner’s circle for the first time.
AB DE VILLIERS has often redefined the word extraordinary in modern-day cricket. He is a full 360-degree striker of the ball and turns what promises to be mediocre into a challenging one in a matter of minutes. The 37-year-old is a Peter Pan player and if he has a great tournament he can win matches with his own deeds. The South African will, as always, be a joy to watch regardless of results. A repeat of his 454 runs last year at a strike-rate of 158.74 would be very entertaining.
GLENN MAXWELL can add balance and firepower to RCB’s efforts this season. The 32-year-old Australian all-rounder endured a low key showing for Kings XI last season but was a target for several franchises in the 2021 auction because of his ability to change a game. He made only made 108 runs in 11 innings last season. His batting is express and his off-spin bowling, usually as a sixth option, is more than useful. If he turns up at his best he is a bargain purchase at almost any price, but a repeat of 2020 and he will be deemed a complete waste of cash. A batting line-up containing Kohli, de Villiers and Maxwell is capable of demolishing opponents.
YOUNGSTER TO WATCH: DEVDUTT PADIKKAL
Padikkal was the emerging player of the 2020 edition and will open the batting for RCB with even more expected of him this time. He made an RCB best 473 runs in 14 innings last season, including five fifties. That is more runs than anyone else has ever managed in their first IPL season. The 20-year-old opener stands tall, displays good judgement, and hits the ball cleanly. If Padikkal can avoid second season syndrome and continue where he left off in the UAE, he is capable of the glorious.
WHERE WILL ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE FINISH?
RCB has always been the toughest side to make predictions on. They are capable of the brilliant and the awful. They have always had stars but scrimped elsewhere in the squad. If the big names fail, they have little to fall back on. The Challengers have always struggled for consistency, so why believe they can change now?
James Buttler is a cricket journalist, broadcaster and host of the Cricket Badger Podcast. You can tune into the IPL Daily editions here: https://podfollow.com/cricket-badger-podcast