Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL 2013 preview April 2, 2013

RCB look to fill gaps with seamers


Big Picture

Two-time finalists and yet, no cup. Royal Challengers Bangalore have choked at the wrong moments and it must be frustrating for their supporters that a team with the likes of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers - possibly the best T20 batsmen around - haven't gone all the way. The feeling of unfulfilled promise was evident in 2012, when the team finished a disappointing fifth. They ended level on 17 points with Chennai Super Kings, who finished fourth in the league, but missed the playoffs because of a marginally inferior net run-rate after losing their last match to eighth-placed Deccan Chargers. In all, they won eight and lost seven out of 16 games, and had one washout.

The over-dependence on overseas stars and lukewarm showing by the Indian players were the main reasons for their failure to make the playoffs. Gayle was the tournament's top scorer (733), hit the most sixes (59) and scored 31% of the team's runs. Virat Kohli, with 364 runs, was second for Royal Challengers. Zaheer Khan and Vinay Kumar failed to contain the runs consistently and the team rarely found the right combination.

A significant change ahead of this season is in the leadership. Kohli takes over as captain from Daniel Vettori and it will be an examination of his leadership skills, given he is touted to be India's next captain. He has the backing of his coach Ray Jennings, who said he saw captaincy material in Kohli three years ago. With Vettori returning from injury - he has missed New Zealand's recent commitments - it made sense for Royal Challengers to look for a new captain for the long haul.

The bowling needed attention after last year's showing. At the February auction, the team went with the strategy of beefing up their seam reserves, buying seven fast bowlers - four specialists and three allrounders - four of them overseas picks. Their batting hasn't been tinkered with. Zaheer hasn't been feeling a million bucks over the last few months, down with fitness issues and dropped for the home Tests against Australia. Royal Challengers will need him to get his form and confidence back to lead the seam attack.

Key players

Royal Challengers' overseas players are available throughout the tournament. Much will depend on Gayle, de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan to provide electric starts. The expectations on Kohli will also increase.

Big players in

Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik was bought outside the player auction and it could be a wise move by the team, given his experience. It's his third IPL team, after Kolkata Knight Riders and Pune Warriors. He adds to the wealth of spin options, with Muttiah Muralitharan and Vettori in the mix.

Big players out

Dirk Nannes was part of the squad last year but never got a game, due to the paucity of overseas slots. He is currently the second-highest wicket-taker in T20s, after Alfonso Thomas. He was bought by Chennai Super Kings for $600,000, where he is likely to get more opportunities.

Under the radar

It's ironic that RP Singh should be considered 'under the radar', considering that he's currently third-highest wicket-taker in the IPL with 74 wickets. He was one of the several seamers bought in the auction ($400,000). He last played for India - out of the blue - in 2011 and hasn't been in contention for a recall. His recent domestic form hasn't been spectacular either, with five wickets in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20. The coming IPL could spark a revival, if he is given the opportunities.


De Villiers is likely to miss at least the opening game, due to his wedding. Cheteshwar Pujara is also doubtful for the opening games because of a finger injury sustained during the Australia Tests. S Aravind, the left-arm seamer, is out injured and he has been replaced by his Karnataka team-mate KL Rahul, a right-hand batsman. When Royal Challengers travel to Chennai, the Sri Lankans Muralitharan and Dilshan will be forced to sit out. Vettori, if picked to tour England, could be available only through April.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    I just felt that AB would have been a better choice for captain. Kohli is equally as good.....but i think AB has more experience.

  • Dummy4 on April 3, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    ab de villiers must bat at 3 to give him more opportunities to show his mettle. Batting a player like him for a few overs is a waist.

  • $$ milind on April 3, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    14 FAST bowlers or rather 13 medium pacers and one quicky ( Rampaul ). Where are u gonna fit them all ? I fear that too many changes can actually spoil the party. So better that RCB management thinks about all this do well here

  • Dummy4 on April 3, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    ok guys this should be the perfect team for me..

    mayank gayle to open followed by kohli,ad de ,pujara ,tiwary ,henriques /dan christian , murali kartik/rp singh (depending on track) ,vinay ,zaheer ,mural

  • Binu on April 3, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    And two more good batsmen in RCB camp Vijay Sol & Sheldon Jackson

  • Binu on April 3, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    Who ever saying RCB is lacking domestic batting talent is not watching domestic cricket,they added KL Rahul who can play in top three and can kepp wickets,Mayank recently scored a century in domestic cricket Karun Nair is talented and played some valuble knocks in the SMT T20

  • Satish Chandar on April 3, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    Gayle, Mayank, Virat, Saurabh, ABD, Christian/Henriques, A Karthik, Vinay, Zak, RP/M Kartik, Murali/Dan V..

  • Senthil on April 3, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    All good, but I wouldn't have loaded Kohli with the captaincy stuff. It really is time for him to enjoy his cricket and focus on his skills and try and contribute to whichever team he is playing for, while learning other aspects from seniors around him. Also, being a hothead, Kohli would do well to stay out of the captaincy business for a while. In any case, there is absolutely no chance he can replace MSD for another five years, so what is all this kingmaking talk all about?

  • Sano on April 3, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    The main concern for RCB is that they had a bunch of domestic pace bowlers & inconsistent domestic batsmen....the only exception is Kohli & to an extend M.Agarwal.....a team which relies on foreign players a lot, they need their domestic players to perform....the inclusion of left arm pace batteries J. Unadkat , RP Singh , P. Parameswaran along with Zaheer Khan is the evidence of their fear... also they had V. Kumar , Sandeep Warrier & left arm spinner M. karthik....they need to know how to play in batsmen's paradise Bengaluru Stadium without leaking runs !

  • Vikram on April 3, 2013, 2:21 GMT

    With Murali not playing much, I expect Kartik to be the primary spinner. Zaheer and Vinay take two slots. Ravi Rampaul is a no-brainer. Kohli would do well to back him, Gaye and Dilshan to make up for the 5th bowler rather than have RP Singh try and fail.