"To be honest, that 2016 season which we all loved to be a part of, since then this is the most balanced I have felt about the squad, as a system as to where we are heading. It's been very well taken care of now. It's up to us to execute on the field." RCB captain Virat Kohli said recently on franchise's YouTube channel.
Virat Kohli has a strong belief in his team for the upcoming edition of Indian Premier League in UAE but is the current RCB team balanced enough to replicate the success of 2016 edition, where it reached the final? The 2016 RCB team had the likes of Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Shane Watson to support Kohli and AB de Villiers, but there are serious doubts over Aaron Finch and Moeen Ali to do the same, looking at their past record.
Out of the last three seasons, the Bangalore franchise has finished at the bottom of the points table twice (2017 and 2019). The team was dependant on the individual brilliance of captain Kohli and AB de Villiers, which cost them their chances in big games. The bowling department has been the weakest link in the RCB side from the past couple of seasons. Indian pacers like Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj didn't live up to Kohli's expectations and went for many in the death overs, despite the captain's backing. Last season Siraj picked only 7 wickets in 9 games and splashed run at the economy rate of 9.55. While senior paceman Yadav was not far behind in leaking runs with 9.80 economy and only 8 wickets in 11 matches.
For 2020 season, RCB decided to rejuvenate the team after parting ways with head coach Gary Kirsten and bowling coach Ashish Nehra. The Virat Kohli side has hired former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson as the director of operations and Simon Katich as the head coach to revamp the team.
In the 2020 IPL auction, RCB decided to bought overseas pacers to back the Indians' in the likes of Chris Morris, Dale Steyn and Isuru Udana. The lanky Proteas Morris was roped in for whopping INR 10 crore, which once again put scanners on RCB's strategy in the auction. In the 2019 edition with Delhi Capitals, Morris gave a plethora of runs at 9.27 economy. While, 37-year-old Dale Steyn played only 2 games last season when he was called as a replacement for Nathan Coulter Nile by RCB, but after a couple of games, the Proteas himself picked an injury. With Steyn, RCB can look him as a mentor of the team as he is not expected to play many games for them this season, looking at his injury-prone last couple of years. Udana is an exciting addition to RCB's pace line-up as he has impressed many with his pace in international cricket but his no-experience in IPL might put him second after Morris on the priority list.
The batting department, which was dependent on Kohli and De Villiers, gets an addition in Australia captain Aaron Finch, who was bought for INR 4.4 crore. Finch, who is touted as one of the hardest hitters of the ball, has been a disappointment in IPL. He was last part of the cash-rich league in 2018, where he managed to score only 134 runs in 10 games. He might be the turn into the biggest gamble for RCB this season, as his inclusion will surely ease pressure from Kohli and ABD's shoulders, but if he failed to adapt to the slow tracks of UAE, then the ghosts of previous seasons will be all set to haunt them again. The finishers role also going to be one crucial aspect where the Bangalore team is lacking a specialist. Moeen Ali is touted to play the finisher's role after a decent last season, where he scored 220 runs at a strike rate of 165.41. Meanwhile, Kohli and ABD have played the anchor role for the team as they explode big the last four overs of the innings. This season, Ali has to take some responsibility of finishing the innings the release the pressure from the duo, so that they can play more natural cricket.
The spin bowling department is the only balanced thing in the RCB squad this season with Yuzvendra Chahal leading the charge. The Virat Kohli- led side has a variety of spinner in Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Moeen Ali, Adam Zampa and Chahal himself. The slow tracks of UAE, might work in RCB's favour with the variety of spinners they have.
The dynamic RCB duo Kohli and ABD are hungry to win the IPL title, but it will be an uphill task for them to lift the team on their shoulders once again.