IPL 6 Team Preview: Royal Challengers Bangalore
There’s no match to Dr. Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers Bangalore when entertainment or glamour quotient comes into picture. They don’t stand too far behind, even when the quality of cricket they play is compared with that of the other top teams. The Royal Challengers, who finished 7th in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League, came runners up in the 2009 season and featured in the semis in 2010. In 2011, they made it to the final, yet again proving to be one of the most consistent teams alongside the Chennai Super Kings.
Overseas talent – The spine of Royal Challengers:
The biggest fear for the other teams will be the overseas roster of the Royal Challengers. They are filled with stars tailor-made for the shortest format. While Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers form the core of their batting firepower, their bowling attack has world class spinners like Daniel Vettori and Muttiah Muralitharan. The Royal Challengers also have street smart all-rounders in Daniel Christian and Moises Henriques. Ravi Rampaul is another addition in the bowling department but with the ‘maximum of 4 foreign players’ rule, it will be tough for him to find a place in the XI.
Chris Gayle was the leading run getter of the tournament in the 2011 and the 2012 edition with 733 and 608 runs respectively and the Challengers would be hoping for a similar show from the big man in 2013.
The local talent – A dodgy territory:
Plenty of responsibility will be bestowed on the new captain of the Royal Challengers – Virat Kohli. The format suits his aggressive nature but it remains to be seen how well he can lead his brigade. Cheteshwar Pujara will be out of action for the first few games which means Mayank Agarwal might get a look in. Zaheer Khan’s fitness is a concern and the other Indian fast bowlers in RP Singh, Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun, Sreenath Aravind, Jaydev Unadkat and Pankaj Singh haven’t proved to be real threats to any opposition in the past. They have performed well in patches but struggled to handle pressure.
Murali Karthik seems to be a smart addition to the spin department that also has KP Appanna and Syed Mohammed. Saurabh Tiwary, who went for a whopping 1.6 Million USD in the 2011 auctions, has flattered to deceive. Onus will be on him to perform in case the team still finds him worthy of featuring in the playing XI.
Home conditions – A twist in the tale:
Pleasant weather and the ground dimensions have always provided a pleasurable experience for both the cricketers and the crowds that turn up for the game. However, over the last 5-6 months, a constant effort has been made to leave some grass on the wicket to give the bowlers an added advantage, considering they are already low on armoury with the short boundaries. The India-Pakistan game that was held at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in December was a low scoring thriller with Pakistan chasing 134 in the final over. The wicket was greenish and brought memories of Perth. Similar conditions were seen during the Ranji Trophy season as well. If there’s anything that can be drawn from the number of local fast bowlers the Royal Challengers bought in the 2013 auctions, the pitch might again be conducive for seam bowling.
Beware – Players to watch out for:
Chris Gayle: The big man from the Caribbean can take the game away from the opposition within a couple of overs with his outstanding ability to attack and do it on a consistent basis. With three hundreds to his name in the IPL already, he would be looking to add a couple more to that tally.
AB de Villiers: Over the last year or two, AB de Villiers has added such variety to his batting that he can be a match winner in any format. The innings he played in 2012 against Deccan Chargers, where he tore Steyn apart and treated him like a net bowler speaks for his confidence and talent.
Zaheer Khan: After being dropped from the Indian squad across all formats, Zaheer would be looking to seize the initiative and bring all his experience into play as a last roll of the dice to show the selectors that he’s fit enough to be back in the reckoning for the Indian team.
The final verdict:
The Royal Challengers have the firepower to dismantle any top team in the league but their bowling unit needs to deliver consistently. They also need to find a way to play Gayle, Dilshan and de Villiers together in the playing eleven. Barring Zaheer Khan and Muralitharan/Vettori, the other 12 overs need to be bowled by the fairly inexperienced ones. If Vinay Kumar and RP Singh can be as effective as they’ve been in patches earlier, we can expect the Royal Challengers to go a step further and lay their hands on the trophy for the first time.
The Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Saurabh Tiwary, Sunny Sohal, Abhinav Mukund, Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, Vijay Zol, Andrew McDonald, Daniel Vettori, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Moises Henriques, Daniel Christian, Christopher Barnwell, Arun Karthik (wk), AB de Villiers (wk), Sheldon Jackson, Harshal Patel, KP Appanna, Vinay Kumar, Syed Mohammed, Prasanth Parameswaran, Abhimanyu Mithun, Zaheer Khan, Sreenath Aravind, Muttiah Muralitharan, Sandeep Warrier, Jaydev Unadkat, Pankaj Singh, RP Singh, Murali Kartik, Ravi Rampaul.