As IPL 2021 looms large, perennial bridesmaids Royal Challengers Bangalore will be keen to kickstart their campaign with a win against defending champions Mumbai Indians. The Virat Kohli-led Bangalore franchise is yet to clinch silverware despite being one of those premium, scary-on-paper sides since 2008.
RCB will be happy with the way their auctions panned out earlier this year. They broke the bank for Glenn Maxwell, a proven T20 commodity, shelling out 14.25 crores. They then went on an all-out three-way bidding war with the Delhi Capitals and the Punjab Kings to rope in New Zealand quick Kyle Jamieson for 15 crores.
Throw in some acquisitions in the form of Daniel Sams, Harshal Patel, veteran Dan Christian, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharudeen, and Finn Allen, and there's probably enough for RCB to go the distance.
Ahead of their opener against MI on Friday (April 9), here's a quick look at their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
IPL 2021: RCB Strengths
1. An explosive batting order
Batting has unsurprisingly been RCB's biggest strengths. In Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, and Glenn Maxwell, they have a blend of timing, versatility, and power that can help them set daunting targets or chase down mammoth totals with consummate ease.
Their biggest revelation, and one for the future, in a young Devdutt Padikkal, means they will finally have a settled opening combination. With Kohli announcing he would open the innings for the side, RCB have made a case for having the most solid-opening salvo in IPL 2021
In the middle, they have de Villiers and Maxwell, who don't really need a lot of time to launch the balls into the stands.
Plus, they have had that sort of a line-up where they can bat deep. This invariably makes them the best batting side in the tournament.
2. A reliable spin attack
In Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar, RCB's spin department is pretty much a powerhouse in itself, with the duo having a knack of working the batsmen over.
Sundar's miserly economy rate of 6.87 is the eighth-best in the league, and that means Chahal being the benefactor of the batsmen's impatience. Throw in Adam Zampa and Shahbaz Ahmed, there's enough options in the side.
IPL 2021: RCB Weaknesses
1. The utter dependency on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers
Barring the two batsmen, RCB have struggled for a third star. It was a simple mantra for the other teams: 'Get either of the two out, and the team's middle order crumbles under pressure.' However, in Finn Allen and Maxwell, there's some firepower for the team should either of their stars falter early in their innings.
2. A relatively weak middle order
Mumbai all-roun d Shivam Dube was one of those expensive buys for RCB who really didn't set the stats sheet alight. Known for his deceptive medium pace and the ability to hit the ball with crisp timing and raw power, Dube was a disappointment for the Challengers.
Come IPL 2021, the onus is on Maxwell, Christian, Sams, Baby, and Azharudeen to play their parts to perfection.
3. Their pace attack is still a concern
RCB are one of those teams with a notorious reputation of spending huge amounts of money on bowlers who never live up to expectations. In the IPL 2021 auctions, they repeated a similar pattern with Kiwi quick Kyle Jamieson. The lanky pacer is an untested commodity in the IPL and should he be expensive, the team will be forced to look for options.
Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini may have express pace, but this may be a bane even in IPL 2021 if they run into batsmen in red-hot form. Siraj, with an economy of 9.08 and Saini at 8.28, have blown hot and cold at different stages of the tournament. The team will be forced to rely on their famed batting order to bail them out of bad bowling day situations.