Is This the Renaissance of Royal Challengers Bangalore?

Gursharan SinghContributor IMay 2, 2009

PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 20:  Kevin Pietersen of Bangalore  (L) looks at the big screen with his team during IPL T20 match between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore at St Georges Cricket Ground on April 20, 2009 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

Have Royal Challengers Bangalore finally gotten it right? The team that initially gave the impression that it just did not know how to win is finally undergoing an image makeover.

They are finally making the ends meet and paying off the millions of dollars put in by liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

What's interesting here is that it isn't Mallya's lavish spendings on Kevin Pieterson that's getting it right for RCB.

Instead, the KP factor can be relegated to anywhere in terms of what is finally going right for Bangalore. 

It's got more to do with the strategical decisions lile team composition and the roles assigned to every player.

Given the money that Pieterson has got, he was supposed to be the star performer. And so was Jesse Ryder, a late overseas picking for RCB, who had shown incredible form in his first international outings against India recently.

However, both have struggled with their batting and so has Jacques Kallis and Ross Taylor who are just a whisker better than KP and Ryder.

Add to the injury Dale Steyn, probably the best fast bowler in International Cricket right now.

To rub salt to the wounds, Robin Uthappa, imported from Mumbai Indians in exchange of Zaheer Khan, was given the wicket-keeping duties in place of Mark Boucher.

This turned out to be a terrible mistake, given Uthappa's performance with both bat and wicket-keeping gloves in comparison to Zaheer's outstanding run with Mumbai Indians.

The only silver lining in the dark clouds was Rahul Dravid's batting in first few matches.  Quite surprisingly for many fans and experts, this came from a man who had to abdicate his captiancy to KP.

Thanks to Dravid and the wily old fox Anil Kumble, their efforts got them at least one victory (against Rajasthan Royals) in first five matches.

But now, with two victories in row, things finally seem to be falling in right places for RCB. Mark Boucher, who was initially ignored, responded brilliantly when he finally got his break.

In fact, he did against KKR what he's always been good at (finishing it off) with crucial innings of 25 in 13 balls. R Van Der Merwe, another highly talented South African all-rounder in RCB team, too was ignored in his own backyard.

He hit back with a splendid all-round show against Kings XI Punjab and perhaps, is clearly the biggest asset in team RCB now.

Another area where RCB are finally doing well is utilizing its Indian domestic players. Shreevats Goswami, a decent performer in IPL-I, scored a resolute 46 against Knight-Riders coming to bat as opener. 

May be he's got a solution to RCB's top-order collapses in first few games. 24-year old Rajesh Bishnoi may not have tasted success at all, but he did provide a glimpse of his slogging prowess against Kings XI Punjab. 

In the bowling department, Praveen Kumar seems to be getting better with each game.

Although KP has gone back to England, RCB has all reasons to be optimistic as Rahul Dravid is speculated to be flying from home to South Africa any time soon and scheduled arrival of Nathan Bracken on May 8. Bracken is surely going to add strength with his economically tight bowling suited for bowling in slog overs.

However there still remain some glitches that RCB need to work on. Robin Uthappa and Virat Kohli need to make significant contributions.

But with the tournament half-way through, there is scope for improvement in key areas like team composition and adequate utilization of overseas players.