Free Press Journal

IPL 2018: Can Royal Challengers Bangalore finally end their trophy drought?


Indian cricket captain and world’s celebrated cricketer Virat Kohli, at the age of 29, has achieved quite a few things in his career. The skipper of Indian team already has under-19 World Cup, ICC World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy under his belt. But, one trophy that continues to elude him is the Indian Premier League title. Even after 10 years, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are still waiting for that moment.

RCB have over the years preferred style over substance and it has been found that they lack the killer instinct. Despite being in the finals three times (2009, 2011, 2016), RCB has always come second and overall their performance has been below par. During this year’s mega-auction, Kohli-led side somewhat revamped their side with letting go star players in Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Shane Watson, Mitchell Starc to name a few and have tried to build a new core with a fresh bunch of players.

Before the auctions, RCB retained Kohli (Rs 17 crore signing, highest in the history of IPL), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan and were looking for consistency and stability. The side is coached by New Zealand legend Daniel Vettori in the past has been guilty of spending too much money on some players (remember Tymal Mills) and not focussing on building the squad. RCB have this season spent money wisely and acquired players such as Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Tim Southee, Chris Woakes, Nathan Coulter-Nile to bolster the squad.

One of the main features to win IPL is to have a strong contingent of Indian players (seven players must in starting 11) and apart from Virat Kohli, RCB have very few experienced and seasoned Indian players. The team management has invested in the likes of Manan Vohra, Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Pawan Negi, Mandeep Singh. It turns out that Umesh Yadav is the only proven player in the squad alongside Parthiv Patel.

RCB will play all their matches in Bengaluru and with most matches being high scoring, the team will heavily rely on Kohli and de Villiers and this could be their Achilles heel as the tournament progresses. Kohli will have to lead from the front and tell his young Indian players to play without fear of failure and whichever four overseas players play will have to do much of the heavy lifting.

Also read: IPL 2018 Team Preview: Can Mumbai Indians continue their glory run in the eleventh season?

Could this be Bangalore’s year in the IPL? On paper, the team looks well organised and in T20 cricket it’s about luck as well. One thing we know about Kohli is that he is a very proud individual and after last year’s embarrassment (finishing last) this season Kohli would like to start on a fresh note and not having Gayle, Starc could prove a blessing in disguise for the team.

Royal Challengers Bangalore would like to play an attacking brand of cricket and one slight criticism could be that they picked too many good overseas players (only four can play) and didn’t pick quality domestic players. This season features many strong teams and not having a strong batting line up could be their undoing. But, on the other side, with Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Woakes, Sundar, Coulter-Nile in the squad, the bowling is looking pretty decent and frugal. RCB now can’t do anything about auctions and by choosing a low profile squad they are trying to take all the unnecessary pressure away and focussing on playing good old cricket.

Prediction for 2018: Could run out of steam to reach top four

Royal Challengers Bangalore (likely XI): Brendon McCullum, Parthiv Patel (wk), Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Washington Sundar, Chris Woakes, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Nathan Coulter-Nile