Indian Premier League 2016: Batting powerhouse Royal Challengers Bangalore seek maiden title
Virat Kohli’s belligerent knock against Australia offered troubled liquor baron Vijay Mallya a sense of momentary satisfaction.
The flamboyant tycoon got rather nostalgic, so to say, casting his mind back to perhaps his only successful business decision in recent years.
Far away from the noise of TV news and in the lap of London’s luxury, Mallya reminisced picking up Kohli to fill in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s U-19 quota in 2008.
Little did the 60-year-old know at the time that his fire-breathing young star would be the batting standard come IPL’s ninth installment.
Mallya’s airline may have crash-landed, but Virat’s career has taken off to a whole new level.
Having lost almost everything that’s dear to him, winning an IPL title could offer RCB’s chief mentor a shot at some redemption.
With an array of superstars at its disposal, the Bengaluru-based franchise is tipped to go all the way every year. But the dream continues to elude this dream team.
And Kohli’s side now finds itself clubbed with the Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils as the only teams to not have had their hands on the IPL trophy.
Underachievers is the only word that comes to mind when describing the red and gold brigade.
In the eight editions so far, RCB have managed to make it to the semi-finals and final each on two occasions.
Somehow, RCB's seemingly perfect performances in knock-out matches have always eluded the team from Bengaluru when it comes to knock-outs.
Will this be the year where everything falls into place for RCB?
Here are five factors on which RCB's campaign to capture a maiden IPL title hinges on.
Virat’s club vs country stats show that the right-handed batsman is more prolific in India’s blue than RCB’s red. That could change this year with the evidence on offer so far. At this same point last season, even Virat was repeatedly heard terming AB de Villiers as the world’s best batsman. Now he finds himself claiming to AB’s throne, at least in the T20 format. RCB need their leader to bat just like he has been doing since the turn of the new year.
Mitchell Starc’s absence is bound to affect RCB’s prospects to some degree. The left-arm pacer was a standout performer for his side last season. Starc’s brilliance at the start and death is second to none in world cricket. New Zealand quick Adam Milne will have to step in the Aussie’s rather big shoes this term. The Kiwi boasts of genuine pace, is capable of taking any top-order batsman by surprise. RCB need him to have a big tournament.
Samuel Badree’s form gives RCB another reason to cheer ahead of the new IPL season. The West Indies spinner put on an absolute clinical display in the recently concluded ICC World Twenty20. From Mumbai’s Wankhede to Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, the leg-spinner showed his mastery over varying conditions. With similar wickets on offer during the two-month tournament, the 35-year-old will be RCB’s trump card in the cash-rich league.
Solid support cast
For any team to have a successful IPL run, the home-grown players need to deliver at crucial moments. In Sarfaraz Khan, RCB have an Indian player who can come to the party on big occasions. After a good domestic season, the right-handed batsman enjoyed tremendous success at the U-19 World Cup. Yuzvendra Chahal is another player, who has shown abilities to perform in high-pressure situations. The leg-spinner needs to repeat his 2015 show, by giving breakthroughs consistently.
Shane Watson’s last T20I for Australia showed just why RCB broke the bank to secure his services. The Aussie is an IPL veteran, well versed with Indian conditions. His addition to the roster adds a new dimension to RCB’s already established title credentials. His explosive hitting aside, Watson’s bowling on slow Indian pitches will be a bankable asset for the team. If the all-rounder can build on his recent form, RCB will be the favourites to win this season.