Bangalore Royal Challengers: the royal team representing the grand city of Bangalore, owned by a billionaire, the second most expensive team in the IPL, captained by a legend, but most experts are already writing them off this season as well.
Let us not make that mistake!
It might be odd to hear, but not impossible to imagine Bangalore Royal Challengers as a team that can be a dark horse to win this IPL tournament. By dark...I mean really really dark, and by horse probably a miniature pony even! But my point is—don't count them out!
When you have a crazy boss...err...I mean a cricket-crazy boss, millions of dollars invested, millions of supporters, and some great players on your roster, you are bound to flirt with success someday. The question is...when?
IPL season 2008
They had a terrible season to say the least. Lost 10 matches, finished seventh in a pool of eight, fired their CEO Charu Sharma, rested their top players due to poor form, tried out more opening batsmen pairs than a teenager tries out a a pair of jeans, had falling outs between the owner and captain and the CEO over team selection...phew.
IPL season 2009, new signings!
The biggest signing of the year has to be that of former English captain Kevin Pieterson, for a whopping, record-breaking price of US$ 1.55 million! However due to international commitments, he will be available for IPL duty only for three weeks.
Smashing New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder is also a part of Bangalore Royal Challengers this season.
Owner Vijay Mallya had directed most of his anger and frustration over the team's failure on his CEO, but some measured shots were also taken on the sitting team icon—Rahul Dravid.
His inefficient captaincy, lack of T20 experience, age, poor form, and inability to inspire his team disappointed Mr. Mallya so much, that he was even looking ways of selling the icon player, or at least sacking him as the team captain.
Though he hasn't been cut from the team, the final decision on captaincy is yet to be taken.
Robin Utthappa, who arrived as a free transfer from Mumbai might just be a boon for the out of form players in the Royal Challengers team. They will also look to Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder for runs, apart from the great KP of course.
Having Nathan Bracken and Dale Steyn as your opening bowlers should give you some level of confidence. But the problem is with the third, fourth, and fifth bowlers. Can Kumble perform better this time?
- Nobody gives them a chance in hell...and that's their biggest strength. If teams are complacent facing them, they have a good chance of surprising them with a good performance. T20 is a perfect canvas for painting the most unpredictable portrait of events, in stunning colors as well.
- With guys like KP and Jesse Ryder in the team, they should feel somewhat strengthened.
- New coach and management team will look to pump the team with excitement and new ideas.
- If old warriors like Kallis, Dravid and Cameron White start firing, team will only perform better.
- Having a boss like Mr. Vijay Mallya on the edge of his patience isn't a good thing. But the pressure to perform from His majesty might just create lions out of sheep.
- Lack of confidence is the biggest adversary of the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Ghosts of last season's performances still haunt the team, and having an owner willing to chop and change even the captain, CEO and senior management after only one season doesn't exactly appraise confidence of others.
- Most players in the squad are either too old or just don't fit the T20 model. Can garnishing such a team with a couple of T20 guns like KP and Ryder really help?
- The team never really gelled under Dravid. Can he or a new captain bring the team together and make them deliver a quality performance?
- Compared to the Rajasthan Royals or Mumbai or Kolkatta, Bangalore haven't made use of their local cricketers as much as they could have. They should have a sturdy pool of young talented cricketers ready for action, but few have even been considered.
Strategy to win
The best strategy is: Mr Mallya uses a numerology expert to change the names of all his players...OR...changes his team's name from his one brand to another, e.g. from Royal Challengers to McDowell's No. 1...OR...prays to god for a miracle!
On a serious note, Bangalore Royal Challengers need to take it one match at a time. Go from strength to strength and take it from there. They must win their home matches and select the team correctly, focusing on young players.
Dravid should be retained as the captain, not because he is a good captain, but because frankly others would make worse captains! KP would have been a great option had he been available throughout the tournament.
Why should I watch their matches?
I hear their cheerleaders are the models from the annual Kingfisher magazines, right? Well...The biggest attraction for most fans I guess will be Pieterson. Expect the stadium to be sold out for all the games in which he features.
Even without KP, I think they will be entertaining enough to watch. Expect a tough fight from the Challengers, they will be desperate to prove their critics wrong.
Opening IPL fixture for Bangalore Royal Challengers
On Apr. 11, Chennai Super Kings will host the Bangalore Royal Challengers and kick off the Challengers schedule.
Bangalore Royal Challengers is a team in crisis, but determined to perform better. They may not come off as "Royal" in their performances this time either, but expect them to be "challenging."