The Royal Challengers Bangalore are one of the most mercurial teams in the IPL. In ten seasons so far, RCB have finished runners-up thrice and made the semi-finals once. There were also several years in which they remained at the bottom of the points table.
In IPL 2016, RCB came out all guns blazing with captain Kohli and AB de Villiers leading the charge, eventually losing out in the summit clash. The very next year, Kohli was ruled out due to injury and his side could never get going. As a result, they finished the tournament dead last.
This year, with most bases covered and both Kohli and de Villiers fit, the team will enter the league with the hopes of clinching their maiden IPL trophy.
Let us have a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in this year’s IPL.
RCB had to make do with Kedar Jadhav as their wicketkeeper in 2017. The fact that they have gone for a full-time keeper in Quinton de Kock this year may help them convert a few half chances behind the wickets. The South African would also beef up their already solid batting lineup as he can bat both in the top and the middle order.
The square at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, the home ground of the RCB, was a bit low and slow in the previous season which did not allow the batsmen to play extravagant shots. The new pitch at Bangalore is expected to be a lot more batting friendly this time around and would allow for 200+ scores.
Despite trying to cover all their bases in the auctions, RCB are left with quite a few weaknesses. The fact that their bowling has limited firepower is certainly a weakness, while their top-heavy batting order may also go against them.
The RCB think tank will struggle to fit all the overseas batting heavyweights in AB de Villiers, Brendon McCullum and Quinton De Kock into their playing XI. Also, they seem to have picked too many people who perform the same role.
Nathan Coulter-Nile was expected to lead the RCB bowling attack, but his untimely injury has left the team in a lurch. His replacement, Corey Anderson, is a utility player and lacks the former’s bowling prowess.
18-year-old off-spinner Washington Sundar has been on a roll of late. What makes him such a coveted T20 player is his ability to bowl both in the Powerplay overs as well as at the death. This season represents a great chance for the Tamil Nadu spinner to make a mark.
Umesh Yadav was the pick of the Indian bowlers in the home Test season but with the inclusion of Jasprit Bumrah in the five-day format, he no longer commands a spot in the Indian team.
As far as the limited-overs internationals are concerned, the pacer last played an ODI in September 2017 against Australia and his last T20I was against Sri Lanka in 2012. It is a great opportunity for the Vidarbha pacer to make a case for his inclusion in the national ODI side with some probing spells.
RCB’s two best batsmen – Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers – play in the top order. Hence, if they are dismissed early, they are not left with much ammunition down the order. While RCB have batsmen like Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra and Colin de Grandhomme who can use the long handle to good effect and have done that in the past, they are relatively inexperienced and can’t be counted on to deliver consistently.
In addition, the Chinnaswamy is one of the smallest grounds in the country. It would be an extremely tough task for the RCB bowlers to contain the opposition on a flat pitch with such short boundaries.