Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are more than a franchise in the IPL; they are an emotion. With some of the most die-hard fans, RCB are one of the most-celebrated franchises in the IPL.
However, as luck would have it, they remain one of three franchises that have never lifted the IPL trophy. The IPL 2020 season for them was promising in many ways. Nonetheless, they found a way to lose momentum and were beaten in the Eliminator against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
One of the biggest criticism RCB have had in this regard is that they get into too much tinkering when it comes to first-team selections. One such instance, for example, was the dropping of Aaron Finch in favour of Joshua Philippe, which ultimately cost RCB momentum at a crucial stage of the season.
Isuru Udana was not ultilised for death-over spells, despite RCB apparently purchasing the player for that very attribute, which was quite baffling. As good as the season may have been for RCB, most of the franchise's success early on in IPL 2020 boiled down to the individual brilliance of players like De Villiers and Mohammad Siraj.
For the eliminator against Hyderabad, RCB came up with a brand-new opening combination, something they had never tried before. The ploy spectacularly backfired, as both openers were back in the hut inside four overs and with only 15 runs on the board.
Just as it was the case in previous seasons, RCB's overreliance on their big-name players haunted them in crucial matches during their IPL 2020 campaign too.
How culpable is Virat Kohli for RCB's latest failure in the IPL?
Barely anybody can remember the last time RCB's middle-order won them a game in the IPL without contributions from the top-four. RCB's middle-order continues to be a game of musical chairs - something that has never got addressed during Virat Kohli's tenure.
Moeen Ali has been playing for RCB since 2018, yet the player hasn't produced a performance worth remembering. The likes of Gurkeerat Singh and Shivam Dube have barely got promoted up the order either. RCB have considered their Indian talent over the years as just extras and used them likewise, which has resulted in a middle-order incapable of winning matches on its own.
Finally, even for the die-hard RCB fans, it's time to note that eight years have passed under Kohli's tenure, but the franchise has managed to reach only one final during this period.
The franchise has made it to the IPL playoffs only thrice in eight years under Kohli, something that RCB need to realise and address at some point. While Virat Kohli's captaincy record for the national team is stellar, the story is different when it comes to RCB.
The very fact that the franchise finished rock-bottom in two of the last four editions of the IPL greatly undermines Kohli's captaincy prowess. While he has had an easier time retaining his captaincy position, given his achievements and brand value, it is high time RCB decide to look past him.
The De Villiers-Kohli combination, however dynamic it may be, has resulted in a lack of team balance and overreliance on star players.
As a captain, Kohli has failed to rejuvenate the team after a string of poor results. The way RCB ended their IPL 2020 campaign was no different from how they started in IPL 2019, when they lost six games on the bounce.
Another criticism that Kohli has had is that only on a handful of occasions, RCB have put in complete performances in the IPL. This season, RCB put in one such performance in the game against Kolkata, which they won by eight wickets. Most of their other wins in IPL 2020 came due to individual brilliance of a few players, which papered over many glaring cracks in the team.
It is time for the RCB ownership to seriously consider its choices. The franchise has already made it clear that they want to see Virat Kohli as their captain and not just a player. Moreover, they have also insisted that the duo of De Villiers and Kohli would remain at the franchise through thick and thin. These decisions have so far worked against RCB.
After getting Aaron Finch in the auction, RCB only saw him as a quality top-order batsman. It is unlikely the franchise will ever back him for a captaincy stint, despite his captaincy experience with the Australian national side.
This season alone showed why many top international players arrive at RCB and fail. Finch got dropped from the team due to his poor performances, but Kohli retained his captaincy despite racking up only three fifties in 15 outings at a modest strike-rate of just over 120.
The decision to back Virat Kohli as a leader through any situation has certainly not paid any dividends for RCB, especially over the last four seasons. Moreover, the combination of Kohli and De Villiers at the top has failed to have the desired effect.
While RCB hired new coaching personnel this season to replace the Kirsten-Nehra duo, a revamp is needed right at the top. The hierarchy should let go of their rigid stand in favour of certain players and create a conducive environment where excellence can flourish.
A change of leadership, both in the team and the RCB hierarchy, might be the perfect start for the franchise to go on and finally end their IPL title drought.Published 10 Nov 2020, 15:12 IST