Royal Challengers hope for a new dawn

Royal Challengers hope for a new dawn

Royal Challengers hope for a new dawn

Their new anthem, titled RCB Play Bold, perhaps carries the message that Royal Challengers Bangalore would love to adopt as they seek their maiden Indian Premier League title.

For all their batting riches and effective bowling resources, Royal Challengers have often fallen short of expectations. Though they have managed to reach two finals (2009 and 2011), their campaigns have been marked by inconsistency and, to an extent, hesitancy.

They have appeared to be less adventurous in crunch matches, allowing the situations to get the better of them. The two finals are classic examples of their propensity to wilt at the first hint of pressure although they had men and means to top their opponents on both occasions.

Whenever the Bengaluru side has shed its inhibition and played bold cricket, it has run the rivals ragged though. The most recent instance being their manic chase of 81 off six overs against Sunrisers Hyderabad in a match whose outcome was crucial for Challengers’ progress to the play-offs last season.

It’s against Sunrisers that the Challengers begin their latest campaign here at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday. A winning start for the hosts is crucial as they will be on road for four matches after their second game here on April 17 against Delhi Daredevils.

Challengers and Sunrisers have shared equal spoils winning three matches each, stretching from the 2013 edition and in that sense it’s a battle among equals.   

The Virat Kohli-led side obviously will bank heavily on their star batsmen. Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Shane Watson and Kohli bring to RCB the batting firepower that is unmatched.

While each one of those four batsmen is different in approach, the end result is the same -- destruction of attacks. Kohli’s sublime form, which won him the man of the tournament award in World T20, is a big plus for Challengers as is the procurement of Watson. The Australian pace bowling all-rounder lends the balance that RCB have been looking to achieve for long. Stuart Binny’s all-round skills also add an extra edge to Daniel Vettori-coached franchise.

Young batting guns Manpreet Singh and Sarfraz Khan would look to build on their gains from last season while it remains to be seen who among KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav gets the nod in case de Villiers is freed of wicketkeeping duties.  

While the unavailability of pacer Mitchell Starc is a big blow, the presence of Adam Milne will give them that express pace with control. David Wiese’s all-round capabilities too provide RCB with more option should they look to deepen their batting strength. The home team will also hope for the local bowling unit to go beyond just making up the numbers. Pacemen Varun Aaron, Harshal Patel and S Arvind and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal should make their experience count.

Sunrisers can look back at their bowling department with far more comfort. In Ashish Nehra, Trent Boult, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman they have an ideal T20 pace unit as they bring both variety and experience. Leggie Karn Sharma is the lone specialist spinner but they have the off-spin option in Deepak Hooda.

Their batting may not be as intimidating as RCB’s, but each of Sunrisers’ batsmen is a match-winner on his day. Skipper David Warner can be as devastating as any we have seen while Shikhar Dhawan is unstoppable when he gets going. Eoin Morgan and Kane Williamson had poor World T20 with bat but IPL is a different ball game. With captaincy responsibilities gone, the duo can play with more freedom.           
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