Royal Challengers Bangalore 2013 review May 21, 2013

A case of peaking too early

Royal Challengers began the season in full steam, but failed to replicate their consistency away from home

Where they finished
Fifth. For the second consecutive season. Flattered to deceive yet again after reaching the final in 2011. They began the season as one of the form teams but struggled for consistency during the second half, when they played the bulk of their away games. It came down to a fight for the fourth slot for the playoffs, with Sunrisers Hyderabad. Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Chennai Super Kings in a must-win game and then had to expect Sunrisers to lose their final league game for a possible backdoor entry to the playoffs. It didn't happen and Royal Challengers, yet again, were left to reflect on a season in which they showed promise, but skidded when it came to the playoffs race.

What went right
The performance of the top order. With the trio of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli, Royal Challengers posted in excess of 170 six times, including the record-breaking 263 for 5 against Pune Warriors. De Villiers enhanced his reputation for being one of the best finishers, sweeping, scooping and slogging seamers in the final overs. The captaincy had a positive effect on Kohli's batting, as he finished with 634 runs with six half-centuries, the top Indian-getter at the end of the league stages. Royal Challengers were also unbeaten at home, for all but one game. Vinay Kumar was the pick of the bowlers with 23 wickets.

What went wrong
In a team of specialists, the Royal Challengers bowlers failed to deliver consistently, unlike the batsmen. It was a familiar malaise from 2012, and despite beefing up their seam reserves at the February auction, the problem remained unsolved. It was their misfortune that their most experienced bowler, Zaheer Khan, was passed match fit only in the final stages. He picked up four wickets in his second and final game, but his return came too late.

Two glaring examples of their inability to defend large totals were the games against Kings XI Punjab. In Mohali, they were blown away by David Miller and at the Chinnaswamy, they failed to defend 175 and lost with nearly two overs to spare. The second defeat considerably hurt their chances of qualifying for the playoffs, and it meant expecting other teams to lose in order to ease their passage.

Royal Challengers weren't the best travelers, losing seven games. Their ability to win away from home was tested when they set out towards the end of April to play six away matches. They won only two of those, that too against the strugglers - Warriors and Delhi Daredevils. After a series of home wins, the question was whether the team could sustain that momentum on the road. They ran out of steam and couldn't claw back.

Best player
Chris Gayle, again. After topping the tournament run-charts in 2012 (733), he followed it up with 708 in this edition. He scored 175 of those in one game, against Warriors in Bangalore, the highest score in T20s, the fastest T20 century (30 balls) and hit the most sixes in an innings (17).

Poor performer
RP Singh was among the seven seamers recruited at the auction but despite his IPL record (third-highest wicket-taker with 87 wickets) he fell short of expectations. He didn't give Vinay the support needed, in the absence of Zaheer. He could be remembered for all the wrong reasons, though. With 16 to defend off the final over against Super Kings, it came down to two needed off the last ball. RP overstepped the crease and Super Kings miraculously sneaked home. That no-ball robbed Royal Challengers of two points and though they didn't realise the impact then, it was to bite them later in the tournament, when they were desperate for points.

Surprise package
Jaydev Unadkat was released by Kolkata Knight Riders last year and bought by Royal Challengers in this year's auction for US$525,000. The left-arm seamer picked up 13 wickets in as many games, including 5 for 25 against Daredevils. It was the only five-for by an Indian bowler in the tournament at the end of the league stages. Unadkat impressed on occasion with his control at the death overs and commentators noted that he had increased his pace.

Recommended for retention
Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Vinay Kumar

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    Yes Gayle,Kohli & AB were the best performers throughout the season but nobody mentions Henriques.He was handy as well.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2013, 0:01 GMT

    For the next auction RCB will need players to fill certain roles in the line up.

    *First, finding an opening partner for Gayle who will go aggressive from the start taking the pressure off him so he can take his time getting in before going for the big shots. If this slot can be filled by an Indian player, even better.

    *Second, two big hitting allrounders to shore up the middle order on the rare day that the top order fails. One International and one Indian taking spots 5 and 6.

    *Third, 5 specialist bowlers. Better than the current lot. Around 4-5 seamers including one wicket-taking strike bowler to fill up that final International slot and 3-4 quality spinners for when playing on slower pitches.

    A line up like this will be very difficult to beat on any track. Personally I would put the emphasis on the bowling. In any form of cricket, be it Test, ODI or T20, the team with the dominant bowling always comes out on top in the long run

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    I feel Christopher Barnwell should have been given an opportunity in atleast a couple of matches. Decent enough bowler to bowl a couple of overs if one of the specialists is having a bad day and is a good hitter of the ball too. But i suppose Henriques did a good enough job that he kept him out.

    De Villiers should have had the keeping gloves more often. No need for more batsmen when the top 5 or 6 can get the necessary runs needed.

    Biggest let down is the Indian bowling contingent did not really perform well. With the exception of Unadkat and Vinay Kumar (atleast at the first half) no one really stepped up in the bowling department. Murali Karthik was economical but did not take too many wickets and Muralitharan seems to have lost a lot of form

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    RCB in IPL 2013 - Team analysis by a fan - Continued… Vs Kings XI at Mohali - Kohli's drop catch & RP, Vinay & even Ravi Rampaul's death bowling. -- Body Blow to RCB bowlers from which they could not recover in the IPL again.

    Tactical Errors - Couple to list Not making ABD keep in many matches, this would have allowed to have an extra player. Dropping Murali Kathik against Kings XI at home.

    If you analyze match by match, you will see one man being hero or villain on a day. RCB never put in a team performance. This is so similar to Indian teams story before Saurav Ganguly's era. RCB should not do the same mistake of letting go all the players as they did last time. Retain 4 best players(Kohli, Gayle, ABD & 1 Indian Player) & try hard to get a killer bowler in auction.

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    RCB in IPL 2013 - Team analysis by a fan. Cheers- Vs MI at Home- Vinay's last over saved the day. Vs SRH Home- Kohli's 90+ Vs KKR Home- Gayle 85 not out. Vs DD Home- ABD won it in Super Over (Pathan almost pulled it off) Vs PWI Home - Chris Gayle's 175 Vs CSK Home - Kohli's heroics in a curtailed game

    Horrid Story - Vs SRH at Hydbad - Vinay bowled an excellent last over. On 19.5 there was a fumble/through at wrong end which allowed SRH an extra run. Needing 2 to win from last ball, Vinay made sure batsman misses it but the keeper (Arun) was not even aware that batsman will run a bye. -- Game Lost in Super Over. Vs CSK at Chennai - Less said the best about RP Singh & his performance on that day. -- Game & 2 vital points lost. Vs RR at Jaipur - ABD had done all wonders to get a score which is above par at Sawai Mansingh. Bowlers failed collectively. -- Crucial loss.

  • Vikram on May 21, 2013, 18:57 GMT

    The captaincy might have had a good impact on Kohli the batsman, but Kohli the captain has a long way to go. RCB would do well to appoint ABdV the captain, and have Kohli learn from him.

  • Dummy4 on May 21, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    Kohli - angry captain made him unapproachable. if someone misfielded, he would go field in that position. An average bowling attack struggled to lift itself. Venkatesh Prasad is a good bowler but not a field setting coach. Adding big bowlers is important but one needs a good fielding and planning coach/captain

  • Mervin on May 21, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    I am also a fan of RCB. But despite their occasional lapse in the field their real demise was not rotating their players. You cannot have 34 players on a team and play the same 11 all the time. RP Singh should not have played so many games. He was one of the most expensive bowler in the IPL. Don't believe you could not find 2 all-rounders to boost the batting and 2 other good support bowlers. Watch next year, they will come back with the same players again. If the bowlers were consistent that would have been an easy final win for RCB.

  • Nayan on May 21, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    RCB's problems in bowling will be hard to solve next year too. Because they will have to buy quality bowlers. No matter how many average bowlers you buy, only quality bowlers count at last. Now, most of the quality bowlers will be retained by their teams. Only a few will de up for auction. Now comes RCB's problem in auction. RCB will surely retain Kohli, Gayle and AB. So they can use less money in auction than some of the teams like KKR, DD, PWI, KXIP who will retain no player or one player at max. These teams will have the luxury of more money and will go aggressive in buying quality bowlers. So, RCB will be lucky if they can get a couple of good bowlers.

  • Kasinathan on May 21, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    Very good team. But the bowlers and fielders did not support them. If only virat accepted the catch offered by David Miller they would have been playing tomorrow If only Zak was available earlier Nothing but bad luck . Good Luck in the next season. I personally feel Dilshan was not up to the mark and R P Singh (the famous words of MSD) did not bowl in the right areas in the death. And the batting stops at 5 Kashinath

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