Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore finished last in the 2019 IPL edition, with only five wins and eight losses. It continued a tradition of the team not living up to potential. Despite having some high-profile players in their midst, RCB have failed to lift the IPL crown even once.

They have come close thrice, finishing as runners-up in 2009, 2011 and 2016. However, luck and panic have combined to keep RCB away from the title. In the last three editions, they have even failed to go past the league stage. As IPL 2020 nears, here’s an analysis of RCB’s squad for the upcoming season.

Strengths: Kohli-de Villiers combo

One of the strong reasons why RCB have managed to somewhat compete in the IPL is because of the dynamic duo of skipper Kohli and AB de Villiers. Individually, and as a pair, they have had a great time with the bat for RCB. Kohli had an astonishing season in 2016 when he racked up 973 runs in 16 games with four hundreds at a strike rate of 152.03. While he hasn’t been able to repeat that feat, he finished with impressive tallies of 530 and 464 in the last two editions. RCB will be expecting better returns from their skipper this time.

As for AB de Villiers, he may have retired from international cricket (although he may make a comeback), but the South African genius remains a force in the IPL arena. After a poor 2017, he has notched up 480 and 442 runs in the last two editions of the IPL in 12 and 13 matches respectively. De Villiers’ consistency is evident from the fact that he has 11 fifty-plus scores to his name in the last two seasons. De Villiers is known for his amazing strike rate, and he has not disappointed in that aspect as well — 174.54 in 2018 and 154 in 2019. A striking performance might pave the way for his World T20 return, so de Villiers will have extra motivation. The Kohli-de Villiers combination will hold the key for RCB in 2020 too.

Weaknesses: Over-dependence on Kohli-ABD

Rather ironically, RCB’s greatest strength is, in a sense, also their weakness. Kohli and de Villiers’ strong show has often been neutralized by the ineffectiveness of the other batsmen. Despite them not coming up exceptional performances, the RCB think-tank have retained the likes of Moeen Ali and Parthiv Patel. The duo will need to lift their game significantly to back up Kohli and de Villiers.

RCB may also have committed a huge blunder by releasing Aussie all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and picking Chris Morris in his place. While both were impressive in the Big Bash League, Stoinis, who scored a record 705 runs in Australia’s T20 competition for Melbourne Stars, could have strengthened RCB’s batting. If you look at the current outfit, they do not have too many proven performers apart from Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch, who was picked up the franchise at this year’s auction.

On paper, their bowling too lacks potency. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is not the threat he once used to be as evident from the fact that he is no longer an automatic choice in India’s starting eleven in limited-overs. Umesh Yadav has had his struggles in the tournament before while Dale Steyn also is past his prime in the format. RCB might thus end up being heavily dependent on Navdeep Saini and Kane Richardson for wickets as the two fast bowlers have been in good T20 form turning out for their respective countries.

Player to watch out for: Shivam Dube

Although Shivam Dube made news for the wrong reasons when he conceded 34 runs in an over in a T20I in New Zealand, he is a talent to look forward to, especially with the bat. He hit five sixes in an over against Pravin Tambe in the 2018 T20 Mumbai League and repeated the feat for Mumbai against Baroda in a Ranji Trophy game. He played only four games for RCB in 2019 but might have a bigger role to play this time.

Verdict

RCB, yet again, seem to have got the team combination wrong, making them heavily reliant on two superstars. Their bowling too seems weak. As such, it will be difficult for RCB to improve their record in IPL 2020 as well, unless of course Kohli and de Villiers produce something exceptionally extraordinary.

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