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IPL 2018: Royal Challengers Bangalore aim to shed underachievers tag

In 2018 season of Indian Premier League (IPL), Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) arguably have the most balanced squad they ever had

cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2018 18:15 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian Premier League,IPL 2018,Royal Challengers Bangalore
Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are yet to win an Indian Premier League (IPL) title.(AFP/Getty Images)

The Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore are regarded as the most glamorous outfit in the Indian Premier League (IPL), but they also carry the tag of underachievers for all the wealth of talent they have had down the years.

One of only five teams to have played all 10 seasons – Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab are the others – they are yet to win a title. They did come close thrice, finishing runners-up in 2009, 2011 and 2016, and were also third in two editions.

Also Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle have been the batting trinity in the side, being batting-heavy has hurt them, especially at the Chinnaswamy Stadium where a good pitch and short boundaries have exposed their bowling if the batting unit was reined in.

IPL 2018 has the potential to change all the past disappointments. In 2017, both Kohli as well as de Villiers missed the early stages of the league due to injuries. The ultra-competitive India skipper did return, but watched the side plunge to finish last.

This season, RCB arguably have the most balanced squad they ever had. A solid bowling unit, all-rounders and batsmen apart, they also have the bench strength in all departments.

Mitchell Starc, and injured fellow Aussie pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile are out due to fitness issues, but it gives a great chance for Umesh Yadav to take on the bowling leader’s role, especially after Kohli did not give the country’s fastest bowler a game on the South Africa tour.

“Umesh has been excellent in the last two seasons, but he didn’t get a chance after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah started well in the Test series. It only shows the competition in India for pace bowling slots,” said Ashish Nehra, the new bowling coach for RCB.

Chris Woakes, Corey Anderson will lead the pace charge while Yuzvendra Chahal and young Washington Sundar can live up to the status of what Nehra called a ‘complete bowling unit’.

FULL SQUAD:

Virat Kohli (capt), AB de Villiers, Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Parthiv Patel, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra, Pavan Deshpande, Corey Anderson, Chris Woakes, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Anirudha Joshi, Pawan Negi, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Navdeep Saini, Aniket Choudhary, Mohammed Siraj, Kulwant Khejroliya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Murugan Ashwin.

Support staff

Daniel Vettori -- Head Coach, Gary Kirsten – Batting Coach, Ashish Nehra – Bowling Coach, Andrew McDonald – Bowling Talent Development and Analytics, Trent Woodhill – Batting Talent Development and Fielding coach, Evan Speechly – Physiotherapist, Ramesh Mane – Acupressure Masseur, Arun Kanade – Massage Therapist, Avinash Vaidya – Team and Cricket Operations Manager, S Rajeswar – Logistics Manager

FIVE INDIAN PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Virat Kohli: The India skipper’s class and consistency will be vital for his team. Coming off a great run for the country, he will be eager to reprise his sensational 2016 season (973 runs) and make amends for an injury-plagued IPL 2017 that saw his side plunge to end up last in the league table.

Sarfaraz Khan: One of only three players retained by RCB underlines the value the 20-year-old attacking batsman brings to the side. After producing some fine knocks in the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the Mumbai-born player also will be straining at the leash after injury sidelined him last year.

Umesh Yadav: The India pacer was surprisingly not used during the South Africa tour, but displayed his form at domestic level and helped Ranji champions Vidarbha to Irani Cup win. Having switched from KKR, the seasoned bowler has the opportunity to take over as bowling spearhead with Mitchell Starc no longer there.

Yuzvendra Chahal: The Haryana leg-spinner is a vital cog in Virat Kohli turning the limited-overs sides into aggressive units. The thin bowler has held his own in a team of batting stalwarts and his change of pace and ability to control the later overs will be vital in the small home ground.

Washington Sundar: The 18-year-old off-spinner is as exciting a prospect in IPL as R Ashwin was when he arrived. After a good first season with defunct Rising Pune Supergiant in IPL 2017, he has honed his ability to bowl in powerplay overs, like he did in the Nidahas Trophy, making him an ideal foil for Chahal.

FIVE OVERSEAS PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

AB de Villiers: Among the most aggressive batsmen in the world, he can tear apart any attack with his 360-degree stroke-play. The South African, like Virat Kohli, was injured early in IPL 2017. Retained by RCB, and with recent fitness issues behind him, the season provides him a great chance to finish an IPL winner.

Quinton de Kock: The South Africa wicketkeeper’s batting is tailor-made for T20 and he was a great buy for Bangalore in the player auction. After four seasons with Delhi Daredevils, he missed IPL 2017 due to injury. His ability to bat anywhere in the order will provide great balance to the side.

Brendon McCullum: The New Zealand stalwart lit up the first IPL game in 2008 with a century, and is still going strong entering the 11th edition. At 36, he will play for his fifth team. He can step into Chris Gayle’s shoes and can be rotated by the team in the eleven.

Chris Woakes: The England all-rounder at Rs 7.4 crore was the biggest buy for RCB at the player auction. Woakes has made crucial contributions in turning England’s limited-overs sides into a force. A successful switch from KKR (2017) will depend on how he deals with the batting-friendly home track.

Colin de Grandhomme: The Zimbabwe-born batting all-rounder from New Zealand is known for his lusty hits late in the innings and ability to take wickets bowling medium-pace. Though the 31-year-old’s sensational three-for-four that sank RCB in IPL 2017 came at a helpful Eden Gardens, he will have utility value.

PAST RECORD

2008 – Seventh

2009 – Runners-up

2010 – Third

2011 – Runners-up

2012 – Fifth

2013 – Fifth

2014 – Seventh

2015 – Third

2016 – Runners-up

2017 – Eighth/last

First Published: Mar 28, 2018 18:15 IST