HEADLINES:
December 13 2019
Can Kohli lay his hands on the elusive trophy?
02 April 2018

RCB, having strengthened its bowling, has put together a well-rounded squad

Virat Kohli enters his eleventh season with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, making him the longest-serving player at any one team in the tournament’s history.

He was drafted in as a youth player in 2008, fresh off victory in the U-19 World Cup. Now he is India’s captain, and one of the world’s finest cricketers, a relentless all-weather champion with the bat.

In the intervening 10 years, Kohli has been in the final of the IPL on three occasions, but has lost every single time. In 2016, a year when he battered IPL run-scoring records beyond recognition, the title slipped through Kohli’s fingers, a home final at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium ending in narrow defeat.

Last year’s campaign was a disaster, the captain missing the early part of the season through injury as RCB brought up the rear.

Weakness addressed

And so on to 2018, when head coach Daniel Vettori and the rest of the management have succeeded in putting together a thoroughly well-rounded squad. RCB’s weakness for a long time now has been its bowling and this has clearly been addressed.

 

Can Kohli lay his hands on the elusive trophy?
 

The spin-bowling pair of Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal, outstanding in the Nidahas Trophy, will unite again, although they will encounter some vastly superior batsmen.

There is a surfeit of multi-skilled overseas players, although who among Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Colin de Grandhomme, Corey Anderson, Quinton de Kock, and Brendon McCullum to select is a question Kohli and Vettori will have to deal with every match-day (A.B. de Villiers, though, remains beyond selection debates).

Fast-bowling depth

There is perhaps enough fast-bowling depth in Tim Southee, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav, and Navdeep Saini, while Pawan Negi and M. Ashwin offer more spin options. Sarfaraz Khan, Manan Vohra and Mandeep Singh will, as Indian batsmen, need to make significant contributions over the course of the season.

No batsman will likely matter, though, as much as Kohli. He was in truly imperious form during the one-dayers in South Africa, scoring the small matter of 558 runs in six games. After a month-long break from cricket, he will be chomping at the bit, eager to claim a trophy that has eluded him all these years.

It is a question he is now asked at the start of every season as a matter of routine; it is one he has no doubt asked himself time after time: Will this be RCB’s year?

X-FACTOR

Washington Sundar: Adjudged the ‘Player-of-the-tournament’ in the Nidahas Trophy, Washington Sundar was the competition’s outstanding bowler. He finished with eight wickets (joint-topper with Yuzvendra Chahal) at an economy rate of 5.7, despite having bowled 13 of his 20 overs in the PowerPlay. Looking back at the auction, RCB will feel the 3.2 crore it paid to sign him was a real bargain

 

 

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