As we count the number of days remaining for the start of IPL 2020, let’s take a look at three-time finalists who are yet to pick up the coveted IPL trophy even once – Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The team has had a decorated history with players like Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble at the helm for the major part of the early years before the captaincy baton was shifted to the present Indian captain in Virat Kohli – back in 2013.
Since then, even though they had the biggest of names in the T20 format as far as their batting armoury is concerned – from the Universe Boss in Chris Gayle to Mr. 360 in AB De Villiers – Royal Challengers Bangalore have not performed to their capacity.
For a long time now, we have seen RCB been a star-studded team, associated with the most talked about and explosive T20 players from around the world. But sadly enough for their very enthusiastic and loyal fans who paint the Chinnaswamy into a sea of red unmistakably every single season – they don’t have results to justify the big billings of their superstars.
This article will focus on why RCB has this dubious distinction. Hoping to be a great help to new fantasy cricket site users like Fancy11, and people looking to gain quick cash from cricket money apps or cricket earning apps – they can use the following bit as means of a tutorial for what RCB needs to do well in the upcoming season and change their fortunes.
All these years, Virat Kohli has been leading the side that has been underperforming on most occasions. If there’s one screaming reason that explains why they have failed to capitalise and cease the moment when it mattered most is because of their over-dependence on two or three marquee players.
On explaining this point in further detail, Indian fantasy cricket people will remember that the highest IPL team score to be registered in the history of the tournament is when RCB posted a mammoth 263/5 against the hapless Pune Warriors India bowling attack back in 2013.
On that day, we saw Chris Gayle tonk his way to an absolutely blitzkrieg innings of 175 – yes all those runs by a batsman in a single T20 innings.
When the batters do well, RCB have just been able to keep their ship afloat.
RCB came agonisingly close in 2016 in winning the IPL trophy. It was also the last time the side had reached the finals, before David Warner’s very talented and high-performing Sunrisers Hyderabad broke RCB hearts. Again, we saw AB De Villiers and skipper Kohli score more than 1600 runs in that edition and hardly anything from anyone else. It was a night to forget for all RCB fans, but in hindsight, you will know that the better team won the tournament.
So where is it that RCB loses the plot? A very prominent reason is their inability to clearly define what they want. There has been a significant lack of clarity in terms of what roles do they expect their players to perform. It’s a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth for Virat Kohli’s men.
There are too many options available for a particular spot, and too little for others, which makes it difficult for them to string together a complete performance and all they manage to do is embarrass themselves, big time.
Taking the example of three-time IPL Champions Chennai Super Kings led by the legendary captain in Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Famously known as the Daddy’s Army – as the average age of the squad is well over 30 – even though they don’t have the best of the players, but are extremely successful in bringing out the best in each player they have.
RCB’s owners seem to buy it all at the auction table but if there’s ever an example of great players don’t necessarily materialise into a team with equally desirable results – we can look at RCB as the quintessential example.
Giving long strings to players is a very underrated topic. Yet, a comparative study done by the Cricbuzz analysts some months ago pointed out that Chennai Super Kings have made far lesser changes to their playing eleven as compared to RCB. Rather, the two teams are in the opposite ends of a spectrum when it comes to this front.
Players in RCB, other than the sure starters in Captain Kohli and AB De Villiers, are insecure about their place in the team as they have such a strong bench strength. There is some or the other changes done to the team combination after every match. So, instead of solely focusing on how to get the job done in hand, some players end up playing more for themselves than the team.
Let’s take examples of players who have done well for other teams after having a torrid time during their campaign with RCB.
Shane Watson was with the Royal Challengers Bangalore for two years in 2016 and the subsequent year. He was asked to bat in the middle order as the top three had no breathing space left with the likes of Kohli, Gayle and ABD in the team. He could hardly come up with any knock of significance across the two seasons.
When CSK bagged the Australian all-rounder before their victorious 2018 season, Shane Watson was given the opening slot throughout the entire season. He didn’t do well every time he came out to bat, but the Australian veteran did score a match winning century in that famous final that ensured that CSK defeated Kane Williamson’s Sunrisers Hyderabad to mark their return to IPL in grand fashion.
During his interviews later on about his time with Chennai Super Kings, the rapport with all the players and support staff and his IPL journey since the very beginning in general – Shane Watson answered along two lines.
Firstly, he was reminiscent of his times with the Rajasthan Royals. Playing for them for a major time at the IPL ever since the inaugural edition, he looked back on the crucial roles he played for them as both – a top order batsman and a more than handy middle overs bowler.
Secondly, he was full of praise for the kind of love and warmth he was showered with during his stint with Chennai Super Kings. MS Dhoni and the CSK thinking tank had persisted with him for a long time – gave him long ropes to perform even during the phases of the tournament where he was suffering a terrible run of form, hardly able to score well.
He repaid the faith and patience bestowed upon him during the most crucial times of the tournament – coming up with big knocks at the top when the stakes were highest.
Somehow though, he might have forgot to mention his time with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, even though he was part of the squad that had made their way till the finals in their 2016 campaign.
There are many such instances where we have seen players move out from RCB and perform for their new franchise in a desirable way that they could never do during their stint in RCB – the reason being players were not playing in their respective positions where they could deliver for the team in the best possible way.
KL Rahul has moved away from RCB and has had a couple of wonderful seasons with the Kings XI and is now all set to take over the captaincy reigns for the franchise.
Another reason that RCB has fallen short on many fronts in the recent past is because of their lack in bowling depth. They end up investing so heavily in the batting department that they are always left behind in terms of their bowling. Just not enough quality bowlers that would win them matches on a flat Chinnaswamy pitch where the ball really travels the distance.
Yes, there have been sparks of some scintillating performances, but they have come rarely with far too many poor outings in between, leaving them with debilitating defeats.
The Indian skipper’s failures in the IPL has led to people doubting his captaincy credentials. No matter how ardent of a Virat Kohli fan you are, this is something that the cricketing world won’t turn a blind eye to.
So, how can Virat Kohli overcome his run of defeats when it comes to the toughest T20 tournament in the world?
The answer is a balanced team. He does not need the best players, he has decent enough players. Instead of looking outside the team for solutions, a more sustainable approach would come from looking inside. An act that would help restore their image that has certainly taken a beating throughout the years.
As mentioned earlier in this article, Royal Challengers Bangalore hold the record of the highest team total in IPL history. But did you know that Virat Kohli’s troops also hold the unwanted record of registering the lowest ever team score?
The Gautam Gambhir led Kolkata Knight Riders side could not get to a competitive total while batting first in their home game against the Royal Challangers Bangalore in 2017.
Defending a mediocre 130 odd total to deny the strong RCB batting line-up a convincing victory, two-time IPL winning captain in Gautam Gambhir deployed a four-pronged pace attack. As a result, Royal Challengers Bangalore were skittled out for a paltry 49.
The fact that the 2016 edition finalists failed to even breach the 50 run mark as a team made the headlines and brought them under serious scrutiny. KKR had only used four bowlers – it was enough to inflict irreversible damage.
The names of the KKR bowlers who wreaked havoc on the RCB batting on that unforgettable night at Eden Gardens were Indian frontline pacer Umesh Yadav, English seamer in Chris Woakes, Kiwi wily pace all-rounder in Colin De Grandhomme and Australian big hitting all-rounder in Nathan Coulter-Nile.
During the auctions preceding the 2018 season, the Royal Challengers Bangalore bought each of these four bowlers into their ranks for the next season. However, we haven’t seen them play together under Virat Kohli even once as Coulter-Nile opted out of the tournament and the foreign limit never allowed the team combination to play both Woakes and Coulter-Nile in a batting heavy team.
This is another case of when the RCB team looked outside their teams to look for solutions. They have a bit too much of a player-centric mentality as opposed to the team-centric plan of action. Keeping the team first has helped achieve good things for other sides who have focused on their own players instead of profusely spending during their times on the auction table, changing team dynamics.
Changing the coaching staff and management after every season or two wouldn’t help either. The captain-coach relationship of Stephen Fleming and MSD has worked wonders for CSK.
Virat Kohli must not look for alternatives in terms of too much chopping and changing, instead looking to invest in players. Not the financial investment we are talking about over here, but instill within the players a sense of confidence to go out and express themselves, play their best cricket without obsessing too much about the results. As a leader, he should make sure that his soldiers feel valued to be good enough for delivering good cricket.
It’s going to take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. But at the same time, as Virat Kohli rightly pointed out in one of his Instagram Live videos with his great friend ABD, it’s important for the duo to enjoy their cricket, continue giving the RCB fans some memorable moments.
That being said, even if you are not an RCB fan, you know that all they need to do is cover a couple of bases that have led to their downfall far too often in the past seasons.
You can not absolutely guarantee positive results in the game of cricket. There are far too many variables involved. Especially when we head towards the shorter versions of the game. But slight changes here and there along with a serious introspection as to what has been going wrong will surely go a long way in reviving RCB’s reputation as one of the strong, more importantly, performing team in the IPL.