For the third year in a row, the Royal Challengers Bangalore have failed to even make it through to the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs, and for a franchise with such a vast array of talent at their disposal, especially their star-studded batting lineup, questions must surely now be asked as to why exactly.
As any squad containing big-hitting batsmen of the quality and experience of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers should not be finishing second bottom out of the eight competing teams, having lost nine of their 14 contests, and yet that was how Bangalore performed in IPL 7.
However, it was only de Villiers of that explosive quartet who ever really managed to live up to the Royal Challengers’ pre-tournament expectations, at least on the type of consistent basis that was needed to see the franchise through to the knockout phase of the competition.
As if to compound matters even more, though, every time their South African star did manage to perform heroics with the bat, it was often still not enough to see his side over the line, while Bangalore also did not help themselves either by consistently sending their most in-form player in too low down the order.
And while both the skipper and his middle-order compatriot Yuvraj showed us glimpses of their extraordinary prowess with the bat, particularly the latter in the second half of the tournament, it was not nearly enough, especially when you consider Yuvi was the most expensive player in the auction at a cost of $2.3 million.
Now when you also throw in the total lack of impact made by two of the Royal Challengers’ overseas players in Gayle and Albie Morkel, combined with an unthreatening and ineffective pace attack comprising the likes of Ashok Dinda, Varun Aaron and Mitchell Starc, then one can begin to further understand just why the franchise performed so poorly in this season’s competition.
The West Indian opener is, on his day, one of the most ferocious and destructive Twenty20 batsmen in the world, capable of winning a game single-handedly. However, on this occasion, Gayle was clearly struggling with his fitness and could only manage a disappointing 196 runs in nine knocks.
Meanwhile, no one could have predicted either that Morkel would be dropped from the team after only seven games yielding just 45 runs and four wickets, in complete contrast to how the Proteas all-rounder had performed in recent editions of the IPL for the Chennai Super Kings.
As a result, with constant doubts hanging over both their batting and bowling departments, as well as concerns regarding half of their overseas stars, Bangalore’s subsequent up-and-down IPL campaign—which saw the franchise win their opening two encounters, before then losing six of their next seven fixtures to all but end their interest in the tournament—is perhaps not that surprising after all.
This is, after all, a side capable of beating the likes of Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai and the Mumbai Indians one day, while then losing to the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Rajasthan Royals the next.
However, that is what happens when you start having to rely on individual exploits to win games, as opposed to working together as a team. This is an overall weakness that has actually seen the franchise finish the first four years of the IPL seventh, runners-up, third and then runners-up again.
And this is before we even begin to mention the number of closely run matches that Bangalore somehow managed to throw away at the death, none more so than their incredible last-over defeat by just two runs to Kolkata in Sharjah last month (see above video).
Meanwhile small, but important, details such as the concession of a competition-high 25 extras also did not help the team cause when it came down to the final reckoning.
In the end, though, the most memorable moment of the Royal Challengers’ stop-start campaign was the on-pitch fracas between Starc and Mumbai all-rounder Kieron Pollard at the Wankhede Stadium earlier this month, which perhaps says all you need to know really about Bangalore’s IPL 7 with the Indians emerging on top to ultimately grab the final play-off berth ahead of the losers.
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