Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are one of the three IPL sides never to have won an IPL title — Delhi and Punjab franchises being the other two — and the fact that the India skipper Virat Kohli has been leading the franchise since 2013 makes their failure in winning an IPL title even more noticeable.
Although they made the play-offs last time after a gap of four years, RCB have failed to get their balance right over the last few years. Their middle-order has always been brittle and their batting has depended solely on the Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers duo in recent years.
With even one of the two failings, they have lacked a batsman who could take them to big totals.
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This season though they have decided to strengthen it by including Australian hard-hitter Glenn Maxwell and Kerala batsmen Mohammed Azharuddin, who scored a 37-ball century in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s, and Sachin Baby.
Maxwell has been included to provide a power-hitting option in the middle-order.
RCB has also bought New Zealand’s bowling all-rounder Kyle Jamieson and Australia all-rounder, Daniel Christian. Both can provide the impetus towards the end of the innings.
Another thing that failed RCB was their bowling, especially the faster variety.
Virat Kohli’s team had till recent years relied on a pace attack that was one-dimensional, relying mainly on pace or some early swing, while lacking the ability to change pace and bring in variations.
However, with the likes of Aussies Daniel Sams and Christian, they have bowlers who can use change in pace. They also have Kane Richardson.
Jamieson, who has been a rage and New Zealand’s fast bowling find over the last 12-14 months, provides not just pace but also bounce.
RCB wasn’t averse to spending a fortune on high-impact players like Maxwell and Jamieson. The Aussie, who is also a spinner was bought for Rs 14.25 crore whereas the New Zealand bowler was picked for Rs 15 crore.
They also have Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini and one of the two will take the new ball.
The Bengaluru franchise’s spin-bowling attack comprises Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa besides Indian internationals like leggie Yuzvendra Chahal and off-spinner Washington Sundar. Zampa played very little last season but after a successful home summer against India, he will probably be their lead spinner if the combination permits.
While Kohli had made it clear that he would open, RCB got a jolt on Sunday when their other opener Devdutt Padikkal, who had a successful IPL 2020, tested positive for Covid-19. He is in quarantine. The left-hander, who made 473 in 15 matches in IPL’s last season and 737 runs in seven games in Vijay Hazare Trophy for Karnataka, could miss the first match.
Royal Challengers Bangalore squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Devdutt Padikkal, Finn Allen (wicket-keeper), AB de Villiers (wicket-keeper), Pavan Deshpande, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddin, Kyle Jamieson, Daniel Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, K.S. Bharat.
Support staff: Mike Hesson (director of cricketing operations), Simon Katich (head coach), S Sriram (batting and spin-bowling coach), Adam Griffith (bowling coach), Shanker Basu (strength and conditioning coach), Evan Speechly (physiotherapist), Navnita Gautam (sports massage therapist).
“We have back-up players, providing more depth. We want to change the style of play on particular venues, there might be certain grounds where we need players who bowl more cutters, there might be certain grounds where we need bounce bowlers,” Mike Hesson (RCB director of cricketing operations.