Royal Challengers Bangalore have been like the age-old, heady champagne at times and like some new beer at others. Oscillating between the sublime and the crude, they are easily the team which has been blowing hot and cold like no other. Touching rock-bottom in the inaugural year in 2008, runners-up in the very next edition in South Africa in 2009, third in 2010, runners-up again in 2011 and fifth in 2012. Well, what’s RCB going to dish out in the 6th edition in 2013?
They begin their campaign against Mumbai Indians on April 4. Surprisingly, RCB have also had mixed luck at home, losing more often than winning to the disappointment of their supporters. If IPL cricket is all about hitting, RCB are right up there on the terraces. In West Indian Chris Gayle, they have a batsman who topped the heap in 2011 and 2012 as well. This year’s skipper Virat Kohli is their top scorer too. But their problem in the main has been their bowling and fielding.
No doubt, they have improved on both fronts but they still have a lot of work to do. With their former skipper and later Mentor Anil Kumble now with Mumbai Indians in the same capacity, their iconic player Rahul Dravid too joining Rajasthan Royals last year, the team surely lacks players of similar stature despite some legendary foreign players in their ranks.
Their preparations began just about three to four days ago. With another three days to go before they play their first game, it looks as though they haven’t had adequate practice together. With a number of tournaments and official series being gone through, their foreign signings can only join them just a couple of days before their opening contest.
It’s one thing to swing your bat and see the ball soaring to the roof tops or even bowl four overs and quite another to run behind it and cut off runs and boundaries or bring off those superb catches, close in or in the deep. No matter what form of cricket, runs saved are just as important, or even more in the T20 context, as runs scored. How RCB shape up will eventually determine how hot or cold they will blow this time around.
They have a young, acrobatic and dynamic skipper in Virat Kohli. But he must eschew the tendency to overdo his act if he is to be more effective, as a fielder and a leader. That might come with maturity, no doubt. But then IPL 2013 will end sooner that you think.
Players have come and players have gone. But since 2009, RCB have had one constant - Chief Coach Ray Jennings of South Africa. “Virat Kohli needs to make sure he gets his captaincy right. Dhoni is not going to be around for a long time. He needs to be ready for India and captaining RCB is a stepping stone for Kohli to take over from Dhoni,” Jennings said after a training session.
“He has the ability to lead the Indian team and also is very fiery which is a good thing for RCB,” he added.
Virat is the 11th highest run scorer in overall IPL history with 1639 runs at an average of 28.25 and a strike rate of 119.28. He has scored 8 fifties, hit 154 fours and 49 sixes. Virat holds the second highest IPL second wicket partnership record with Chris Gayle, an unfinished 202 against Kings XI Punjab in 2012.
RCB’s Manish Pandey became the first Indian to score a century in IPL when he made 114 not out against Deccan Chargers in their last match in the league phase in 2009. Pandey has moved to Pune Warriors. But the point is RCB have provided a fair share of record performances in a tournament which they have threatened to win but haven’t really done so. Will they do that in 2013?