Despite there being two other teams that haven't won the tournament yet, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are the only team that have lost after having made it to the finals of the IPL three times. Each of those 3 times, the Virat Kohli's team have looked to be favourites to bring home the match, but each time, something or the other has gone wrong for them and resulted in another loss.
The times where they haven't reached the final, they have either finished in the bottom two, or have had to wait until the last game depending on other teams for their qualification. The fact that RCB have the highest score in the IPL, as well as the lowest, is perfect testament to the inconsistency of the franchise.
With the biggest names in world cricket having played for RCB, making them the best side on paper before the start of the tournament, it really begs the question - Why haven't they won it yet? It may be the over-dependence on players like AB de Villiers or the skipper Virat Kohli, or it may also be that the strategy level decision making has been consistently poor.
Whatever the reason may be, it may help them to mix things up a bit and see where it takes them. After all, masterstrokes were also uncertainties at some point.Here's what RCB could look to do this season, which may help them get closer to their goal.
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#1 Play Joshua Phillippe in the XI
Joshua Phillippe, the young (almost) unknown lad from Australia fits right in to the explosive batting line-up that RCB possesses. The reason that this may be an unorthodox call for RCB to take, is simply the plethora of international options that Virat Kohli possesses in his unit.
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With the IPL only allowing 4 international players in the squad, and de Villiers and Dale Steyn being surefire entries into the XI, the team would have to choose between Chris Morris (who probably will make it into the XI due to his INR10 crores price tag), the Australian duo of Kane Richardson and Aaron Finch, and the stylish Moeen Ali.
If RCB takes the risk and plays Phillippe, they get a smart stroke-maker who is in a rich vein of form, fresh from his Big Bash League exploits, who also doubles up as a wicket-keeper. RCB would also have an added advantage of the X-factor that Phillippe possesses, as this will be his first appearance in the IPL.
Note: Each of these are individual scenarios. If one of the scenarios listed ahead turns into a reality, another may not.
#2 Make Washington Sundar open the batting
Washington Sundar came into the RCB squad as a talented youngster who could minimize the flow of runs in the power play overs, as well as strike a few blows with the bat. However, his value with the bat in a squad that already possesses the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Aaron Finch, and Moeen Ali is very less.
Given his ability to clear the ground and play the field, Sundar can be given a role similar to that of Sunil Narine by Gautam Gambhir during his days at the KKR camp. Sundar can be given a go at playing a pinch hitter's role. If he performs as planned in a game, then RCB's explosive batsmen can take the damage up a notch when they come in to the middle. If he doesn't, the batsman can go about their game business as usual.
RCB have always had a top heavy unit in almost every given edition of the IPL. This move could not only ensure that their batting goes deeper, but also optimally utilize their players.
#3 Make AB de Villiers keep wickets
While this may not be a popular move given the brilliance that de Villiers has exhibited on the field, this move could solve other problems that might in turn win us games.
Agreed, Parthiv Patel has been great behind the stumps and nobody can forget his direct hit that won RCB the game off the last ball against the Chennai Super Kings in 2019. However, Patel tends to slow down the run rate after the end of the power play, and this dents RCB's chance of posting a big total when batting first.
If the team management is willing, and AB de Villiers agrees to keep wickets for RCB, the first and biggest change in the line-up would be Aaron Finch coming in to open the innings along with either Virat Kohli or Devdutt Padikkal. This move would ensure that we have two openers who can attack regardless of the stage of a match. It would also enable RCB to strengthen their middle order, which in the past, has been a major cause for concern.
#4 Open the innings with Padikkal and Phillippe
Devdutt Padikkal, coming off of a dream debut domestic season would be looking to extend his rich vein of form in the IPL. After not having gotten a single game in the previous year's edition, his fortune seems likely to change this year.
Granted, both Josh Phillippe and Padikkal are young, inexperienced and are yet to play their first IPL game; but these two young batsmen are hungry for runs, after having dominated the best of bowlers in the respective leagues that they have played in.
With the combination of these two batsmen, Padikkal can look to be the aggressor primarily because of his batting style and also because he's a local lad who would know the Chinnaswamy in-and-out; while Phillippe can play the role of the anchor, and begin to attack if and when Padikkal gets out.
What this does, is take a huge load of pressure off of the shoulders of the senior players like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. RCB have been too dependent on their two best batsmen, and this may be the way that can change.
#5 Go in with 5 specialist bowlers
While RCB's batting has more often than not looked solid, the same can't be said about their bowlers. As a unit that has often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, RCB's bowling woes never seem to end.
The major contributor to this is perhaps the fact that they often choose to go in with 4 specialist bowlers, and leave the remaining 4 overs to be bowled among the all-rounders. At times it so happens that the all-rounders get hit for an awful lot, as was the case with Marcus Stoinis and Colin de Grandhomme last year. This in turn tends to put a lot of pressure on the team, and eventually leads to the change to the earlier plans, solid as they might be.
What RCB can do to avoid this scenario is to go in with 5 specialist bowlers to ensure better quality in the bowling department. They however have all-rounders who are no-brainers to include in the XI like Moeen Ali and Chris Morris, the latter in all probability will be expected to bowl out his 4 overs. They can choose from options such as Dale Steyn, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Kane Richardson to fill up 5 slots in the XI. This would allow captain Kohli to freely rotate his bowlers if any of them had a bad day.