Royal Challengers Bangalore or RCB have featured in three IPL finals in 11 seasons, but have ended up as runners-up on all three occasions. They lost to Deccan Chargers in 2009, to CSK in 2011 and to Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2016. On all the three occasions, they have lifted their game in the business end of the tournament to qualify for the final, but they failed to cross the final hurdle all the three times.
The current RCB skipper Virat Kohli was part of all the three IPL finals. He led from the front in 2016 IPL, striking a record four tons in a single IPL edition. But he too failed to take the team across the finish line.
If that is not enough, they have ended runners-up once in Champions League T20 in 2011, losing to Mumbai Indians in the final.
Hence, RCB are perennial chokers losing all four finals in IPL and Champions League T20 combined.
So, what ails a star-studded line-up of RCB over 11 years?
They depend on stars solely
RCB have made a big folly of buying big stars, rather than focussing on team composition over the past 11 seasons. So, they had star players in Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid, Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers, Daniel Vettori, Kevin Pietersen, and Virat Kohli to name a few.
But cricket is a team’s sport, and only individual performances can take you to a certain distance. In the end, the team composition and the team effort win you a tournament.
A case in point is Chennai Super Kings, who have stuck to a core unit throughout the 11 seasons and have been to playoffs every time, winning three titles.
RCB have struggled to find suitable supporting acts to their stars. And hence, they have failed to deliver the knockout punch. Over the past few seasons, RCB have depended heavily on Kohli and ABD, and none of the other RCB batsmen have supported them consistently.
Released key players after just one poor season
RCB do not believe in the philosophy of ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ adage. Hence, how you would explain releasing class players such as KL Rahul, Shane Watson and Kedar Jadhav from your squad?
Rahul went on to become the leading run-getter for Kings XI Punjab after being released by RCB, while RCB-discard Watson won CSK the 2018 IPL final with a scintillating century. Jadhav won the only match he played for CSK last season before being ruled out with a hamstring injury.
All these players had one poor season with RCB and they were discarded, but they went on to be match-winners for their new teams. Meanwhile, RCB’s new hires Mandeep Singh, Colin de Grandhomme flattered to deceive last season.
RCB bowling attack lacks teeth
RCB have chopped and changed their bowling attack frequently, hence, not giving it a base to settle down. They bought all the four KKR bowlers who shot them out for 49 in 2017 IPL. But the four bowlers, barring Umesh Yadav, just could not turn up the heat on the opposition in IPL 2018.
They lacked a genuine quality pacer in their ranks throughout the 11 seasons. Or, even if they had one, the back-up bowlers were not up to the mark. They have a Tim Southee in IPL 2019 squad, with a wayward and inconsistent Umesh Yadav as back-up.
Will they be able to hunt in pairs like other teams such as CSk who have unearthed a pace bowler almost every season, in the upcoming edition of IPL.
Succumbing regularly under pressure
RCB have succumbed at the big stage on all four occasions. Like how winning is an attitude, losing too is one. So, when you lose a couple of finals, the fear of failure hounds you the next time around. RCB was no different.
After losing two finals in the first four seasons in IPL, RCB needed one single man – Kohli – to take the team into the title round in 2016 IPL but there too they lost closely by a margin of 8 runs.
It speaks a lot about the mental strength of the RCB group who have failed to raise their game in crunch finals. Can RCB do this time around?
RCB lack experience?
In the current season, they have had the option to bolster experience by going in for some veterans. But instead, they chose to go for the young legs. So, except Kohli, ABD none of the other players boast of a quality IPL experience.
That could make a lot of difference to the end results. Even though fresh and youngsters are the pre-requisites to play in IPL, experienced cannot be ignored altogether.
Last year, CSK was trolled for buying players in mid-35s and above. But those players won CSK their third IPL title.
RCB believe youngsters are the way to go in IPL, but the move can backfire especially in crunch games when an experienced head can take the team past the finish line.
Hence, RCB’s chances depend heavily on Kohli-ABD pair once again this season. If the two fire in unison, RCB can target a playoff berth, but post that, they would need a few experienced heads.
Will Kohli-ABD experience will be enough? Your guess is as good as mine.