"The fans can accept a poor performance, but they won't take it when you choose not to put in the effort." – Pep Guardiola
With ‘We are the Best, forget the Rest’ as the official tagline of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team, the above quote totally sums up the RCB squad, who have had so far no luck to win a single Indian Premier League title.
Soon, the Garden City of India will hear the same chants again for their favourite team led by Indian skipper Virat Kohli.
Skipper Virat Kohli, at the age of 29, has already achieved a thousand milestones in his career, with under-19 World Cup, ICC World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy, under his belt. But one thing that might haunt him is the Indian cricket’s coveted domestic T20 trophy - IPL.
It has been over a decade with RCB. Kohli, however, has failed to lift the IPL. Better luck this time, perhaps.
In the city of Bangalore, you can smell and feel the red army’s influence among its audience and fanbase, but they haven’t been satisfied by the high-profile players and their dismal performances.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have always preferred style over solidity and that extra element has always come back to hurt their IPL seasons over the decade.
With players like AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli, they should be blasting teams off with their aura and charm. Well, they always had those qualities but their performances were largely poor.
This season, the team management wanted to give it a fresh start after leaving out heavyweights Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Mitchell Starc, KL Rahul to name a few, revamping the whole squad, retaining only handpicked players.
The IT hub of India will witness a fresh set of players ready to change the history of fan-favourite RCB and lift that trophy for which a total of eight teams will go neck-to-neck.
Same old story again?
One of the main elements for crossing that winning line is to have a strong core of Indian players and apart from Virat Kohli, RCB has very few dependable seasoned players.
The management board splashed their cash for the likes of Manan Vohra, Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Pawan Negi, Mandeep Singh, and it again feels like they lack the cutting edge. Umesh Yadav and Parthiv Patel only seem like the dependable duo on which Kohli can bank. Chahal always brings that X-factor and is a reliable candidate.
Before the auctions, RCB retained Kohli, AB de Villiers and Sarfaraz Khan. Daniel Vettori-coached side has been guilty of spending too much on wrong players, instead of focusing on the core of the squad.
This time though, RCB have added some steel with clever spending on the likes of Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Tim Southee, Chris Woakes, Nathan Coulter-Nile to bolster the squad.
With RCB, having such an excellent squad is never a problem, but to hit the mark with consistency has been a major problem.
Bengaluru is one of the venues in India, a veteran of spectating high-scoring matches, and RCB, as usual, will rely heavily on Kohli and de Villiers and that might become a tennis elbow for them once again.
Kohli’s aggressiveness in leading the side will help the hot-blooded youngsters to play without failure and his leadership might be the key to unlock the locked treasury of RCB’s luck in IPL.
Change of fortune?
On paper, RCB looks a well-balanced squad, with a proper equilibrium of experience and youth in it. The sole criticism RCB could be a recipient of is that they picked too many excellent T20 players without cementing the domestic core with some experience.
The bowling department is also looking steady with Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Woakes, Washington-Sundar and Coulter-Nile.
Now, RCB can’t do anything about the auctions, but by opting for a low-profile squad they are trying to take all the unwanted pressure and playing some good ol’ cricket.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (likely XI): Brendon McCullum, Parthiv Patel (wk), Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Washington Sundar, Chris Woakes, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Nathan Coulter-Nile