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IPL 2019: Is it time for RCB to move on from Virat Kohli and appoint a new skipper?

ANALYST
Feature
Timeless

Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers (picture courtesy: BCCI/iplt20.com)
Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers (picture courtesy: BCCI/iplt20.com)

It is a new year, a new season, and a new bunch of players, but the results are the same old story for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). The Bangalore franchise led by the current Indian skipper, Virat Kohli, have lost all of their first three matches in IPL 2019 so far.

But more than the number of losses, it is the margins of their defeats that is the primary concern for the team management.  

In the past 11 editions, RCB had qualified for the final thrice (2009, 2011, 2016) but lost all three of them. Out of the remaining eight seasons, RCB failed to qualify for the playoffs in six of them (2008, 2012-14, 2017-18). Of those six seasons, 2017 was their worst season as they finished last in the points table and managed to win only three matches.

From Rahul Dravid in 2008 to Kohli in recent years, six different players have captained the Bangalore franchise in their IPL history. The stats and spans of those captains are listed in the table below:

Note: The statistics include RCB’s matches in both IPL and now-defunct Champions League T20
Note: The statistics include RCB’s matches in both IPL and now-defunct Champions League T20

Among the six captains listed above, only Kumble, Vettori and Kohli captained the franchise for more than one season.

As seen in the table, RCB’s greatest time came under the reign of Kumble, as the team finished as runners-up in 2009 and third in 2010.

Ever since the flamboyant Indian skipper Kohli took over the captaincy role full-time in 2013, RCB have witnessed more lows than highs. Since 2013, the franchise has gone past the group stage only twice. Even Kohli’s historic tally of 973 runs from 16 matches during the 2016 season was not enough for the franchise as they failed to cross the final hurdle. 

It is hard to digest the fact that even a batting line-up of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Lokesh Rahul and Shane Watson failed to win the trophy for RCB. That is the reason why the Bangalore franchise is often compared with the South African cricket team; they are both derided as chokers.

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Despite the frequent shuffle in squad and support staff over the years, RCB have repeatedly failed in the quest of winning their maiden IPL trophy. However, the captaincy has never changed hands in all these years.

If it was any other player with such a poor captaincy record, then any franchise would have obviously sacked that player and appointed a new skipper. However, RCB continue to persist with Kohli since he is Kohli, India’s most powerful cricketer. And since the man's batting has never been an issue, only his leadership quality is open for debate.

A change in leadership will bring in fresh new ideas and new strategies. But in the current squad, only De Villiers has significant prior leadership experience, and he is among the longest-serving players in the franchise’s history. 

There is a considerable chance of Kohli taking rest at some stage of the tournament, keeping the ICC World Cup 2019 in mind. And since De Villiers knows the RCB set-up in and out, the franchise can try appointing him as the new skipper for the rest of the season.

Who knows, that could well reverse the fortunes of the struggling team.

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