Royal Challengers Bangalore can be easily termed as the perennial under-achievers of the Indian Premier League. They have finished runners-up twice in 2009 and 2011, but since then they made it to the playoffs only once in the last four seasons. Every year they start as one of the favourites but have only been to the playoffs four times in eight seasons.
Last year, the Virat Kohli led team was eliminated in the Qualifier 2, losing to Chennai Super Kings narrowly by three wickets and with one ball to spare. They had three batsmen, Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle, in the top 6 run-getters and four bowlers, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mitchell Starc, Harshal Patel and David Wiese, in the top 10 wicket-takers lists last season. But despite of all the ingredients they fell short again, and must be looking to make amends this time around.
This season they reinforced the allrounders slots by employing the services of seasoned hands in Shane Watson and Stuart Binny during the February auction. But they will be without Australian pacer Starc, who has been ruled out for the season due to injury.
Captain: Virat Kohli
Kohli is in the form of his life and is expected to lead the side from the front again like last season. Last year, they did everything right but failed to go all the way. He will be looking to break the title-drought this season with another commanding show.
Coach: Daniel Vettori
One of the most successful cricketers from New Zealand is with RCB since the fourth season in 2011. First as a player and since 2015 he has donned the head coach’s cap of the star-studded team, taking them to the Qualifier 2. He will look to go a step or two further this time around.
Squad: Virat Kohli, Abu Nechim, Samuel Badree, Yuzvendra Chahal, Praveen Dubey, Travis Head, Kedar Jadhav, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Lokesh Rahul, Sachin Baby, Vikas Tokas, David Wiese, Varun Aaron, Sreenath Aravind, Stuart Binny, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Iqbal Abdulla, Akshay Karnewar, Vikramjeet Malik, Adam Milne, Harshal Patel, Kane Richardson, Shane Watson.
Previous IPL standings: The two runners-up finishes in 2009 and 2011 are the best showings for the star-studded side in the league. They came close with third-placed finishes in 2010 and last year in 2015. And they had also endured the ignominy of missing the playoffs four times, finishing 7th in 2008, 5th in 2012, 5th in 2013 and 7th in 2014.
How they fared in IPL 8: RCB started their campaign with a win over Kolkata Knight Riders, but slipped soon with three consecutive home defeats against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. They bounced back with back-to-back wins against Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils, but couldn’t make it three after they were forced to share points due to rain against Rajasthan in the next. They returned to complete a double against KKR, only to concede one to CSK two days later. They regrouped to stitch two consecutive wins against Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai, before Punjab took the revenge against them soon. They secured the all important seventh win against Hyderabad in their penultimate game, before rain forced another no result for them against Delhi in their final league game. They finished third in the standings with seven wins and two no-results, and later they defeated Rajasthan in the Eliminator before losing to CSK in the Qualifier 2.
New Additions: Shane Watson, Samuel Badree, Travis Head, Sachin Baby, Kane Richardson, Vikramjeet Malik, Vikas Tokas, Stuart Binny, Praveen Dubey, Akshay Karnewar, Iqbal Abdulla
Key Players: The trio of Kohli, De Villiers and Gayle, who scored more than 1500 runs together in the last season, will remain the leaders of the pack for the Royal Challengers. The batting is further bolstered by the joining of in-form Watson, who recently retired from the international cricket. They have one of the most balance bowling attack in the league, comprising fast bowlers Wiese, Patel, Adam Milne and spinners Chahal, Badree and Abdulla. They also have some talented domestic youngsters like Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh. It’s a whole package as usual.
IPL 9 Prediction: They are the most talented team not to win the coveted trophy in the league so far. Last year they came very close but missed out narrowly in the Qualifier 2 and finished third. They still have the core team intact and reinforced their allrounders slots with Watson and Binny and spin slots with the signings of Badree and Abdulla. They are too good to miss the playoffs and as always look good to go all the way.