If there is one team that has been one of the big underachievers in the history of the IPL, it has to be the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Across the 12 seasons, they’ve reached the final thrice and made it to the playoffs on five occasions. Yet, they have no silverware to show.
Despite having some of the best players around the world, RCB have failed to win a single IPL. Be it the likes of Anil Kumble, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor, Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn in the early years or the likes of Chris Gayle, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Mitchell Starc and many more in the last few years. Virat Kohli (since the start) and AB de Villiers (since 2011) have been the constants. RCB have flattered to deceive almost every year.
In 2019, they failed miserably. They did miss out on the playoff berth by one win but they eventually ended up with the wooden spoon, winning just five out of 14 games. Hence, RCB will be looking to turn things around next season.
Here are five areas they should look to address in order to stand a chance to win the IPL 2020:
Bowling has always been RCB’s Achilles heel. They tend to have all the star players in the batting department but go missing with the ball. However, that has sort of changed over the last couple of seasons. The Bangalore franchise has invested in bowlers but they’ve not fired.
The likes of Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Mohammed Siraj and Kulwant Khejroliya have gone for aplenty at the death. In fact, Yadav is not a death bowler but still, there have been instances when he’s been assigned to bowl the penultimate or the final over. Navdeep Saini was impressive last season but even he leaked a few and didn’t have great control at the death.
Hence, this is one area where RCB need to strengthen their attack. While they have a decent spin attack and good bowlers to start things, they seem to go missing at the death. In fact, they’ve lost games from very good positions due to poor death bowling.
When we talk about RCB’s batting, we mainly talk about two players – Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. There is no doubt that the superstar duo is RCB’s mainstay with the bat. However, on many occasions, others just don’t turn up. Kohli and de Villiers can’t do it every time. They need someone else to stand up and deliver as well.
The likes of Moeen Ali and Marcus Stoinis did it last season on a few occasions but they were pretty inconsistent as well. Moreover, even they like batting in the top four which leaves a hole in the finishing department. Hence, apart from these, there was no one contributing in the middle.
Thus, it’s important for RCB to invest in a couple of middle-order batsmen or even specialist finishers. It will bolster their side and give them a well-rounded look. For the last couple of years, the batting always seems to fall off a cliff after 4 and 5.
Backing players is one area where RCB really need to work on. They need to give players a slightly extended run and instil confidence in them. Every time when someone fails for two-three or four matches at the maximum, there is a change. Performance is important but at times, backing that particular player is equally important.
Last season was a perfect example of how RCB didn’t back it’s players. They started with Shivam Dube but he played just four games throughout the season despite the promise he showed before the IPL started. Moreover, he barely bowled – only 1.4 overs in four games. Shimron Hetmyer played a mere five games in the season and it was only in the last game of the season where he showed what he’s capable of.
Colin de Grandhomme was axed after a couple of failures as well. But the most surprising one was the case of Washington Sundar. The Tamil Nadu all-rounder played just three games throughout the season. RCB’s handling of Sundar wasn’t great. Hence, there is too much chopping and changing which has affected the players as well.
Picking the right players
RCB have often been too guilty of splurging big money on particular players. Be it Yuvraj Singh in 2014, Dinesh Karthik in 2015 or Tymal Mills in 2017, they have gone over the board and bought these players. To their credit they’ve been a bit better in the last couple of years and but their management has been a touch wayward.
They made very good choices in 2018 when they picked up the likes of Quinton de Kock and Chris Woakes in the auctions. However, a few bad games and they were reduced to the bench and were released before the next auction. De Kock proved to be a costly release as he hit form playing for Mumbai Indians and was their leading run-getter.
Meanwhile, they even didn’t opt to use the Right To Match (RTM) card for KL Rahul in 2018. They opted to retain Sarfaraz Khan and when they had the choice of buying Rahul back from the auction, they decided against it. They opted to use their RTM for Pawan Negi. Hence, RCB’s management has to get better at picking and managing players.
Relieve Virat Kohli of captaincy?
Virat Kohli took over as full-time captain of the RCB franchise in 2013. Since then, RCB have made it to the playoffs only twice – 2015 and 2016. Apart from that, they’ve disappointed in most other seasons. They finished sixth twice (2013 and 2018), seventh in 2014, third in 2015, runners-up in 2016 and last twice as well (2017 and 2019).
There’s absolutely no doubt Kohli is the best batsman in the team and may have earned the right to lead the team as well. However, he took over as India’s Test captain in early 2015 and across all formats in early 2017. Hence, relieving captaincy might just reduce Kohli’s burden.
Moreover, it may just bring in some fresh ideas at the helm. A change in captaincy may just bring in a change in luck as well. Also, it may help Kohli play a lot freely. Yes, he thrives in responsibility but a change might help the franchise.
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