IPL – 12 cannot get off to a better start. It kicks off at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on Saturday with a really big bang with two heavyweights Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore beginning the proceedings. Tickets were sold out within hours not surprisingly when one side is led by MS Dhoni and the other by Virat Kohli. Besides the charismatic captains there are a number of crowd pullers in both sides and this being T-20 cricket it goes without saying that it will be a close contest going down to the last over – or perhaps even to the last ball.
There cannot be any favourites in this format particularly given the fact that it is the tournament opener. CSK however enjoys a much better record overall having won the title three times in nine editions (they were banned for two years) whereas RCB has not won the IPL even once, its best being finishing runners up three times.
The inability of RCB to inscribe their names on the trophy has been the subject of much discussion for on team personnel they would be right up there as leading contenders. But they have frequently played well below the high standards they are capable of. Otherwise there is no reason why a team which has three of the best players in the world in this format – Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers – should not be able to win the title at least once.
Is it then a leadership problem? It is this point that Gautam Gambhir raised a few days ago while questioning various aspects of Kohli’s captaincy. He was of the view that the Indian captain is “very lucky’’ to be continuing as captain of RCB. He said that Kohli should be thankful that the franchisee has not sacked him despite his continued failure to win them a title.
Under Kohli RCB have won 44 and lost 47 matches. Kohli took over the captaincy full time in 2012 and in seven seasons under him RCB have progressed to the play offs on just two occasions despite having the most star studded batting line-up in the competition and a number of other big names. Incidentally RCB, King’s XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils/Capitals remain the only sides without a title but RCB are the only franchisee to have shown faith in their leadership.
RCB have the opportunity to set the record straight in IPL – 12. Can they play up to their potential and lift the trophy for the first time?