Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL 2014 review May 24, 2014

Inconsistency drags RCB down again

Despite boasting of one of the most powerful batting line-ups in the tournament, Royal Challengers Bangalore failed to click as a unit and missed out on the playoffs for the third consecutive year
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Agarkar: Royal Challengers squad had no depth

Where they finished

Seventh, with five wins from 14 matches.

What went right

Royal Challengers' famed batting arsenal did not click as expected, but AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh all gave glimpses of their undoubted quality. Yuvraj, who at Rs 14 crore ($2.3 million) was the most expensive player in the auction, came into the tournament facing a barrage of criticism following his 21-ball 11 in the World T20 final. He continued to struggle against spin and pace alike early in the tournament here. But then, to his credit and Royal Challengers' delight, he picked up steam as the tournament went along. He scored successive fifties in the latter half of the tournament, against Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils, which were a throwback to his heydays.

What went wrong

Seventh, runners-up, third, runners-up, fifth, fifth, and seventh. Few other teams in the IPL do inconsistency like Royal Challengers, and their latest campaign was a page-by-page reconstruction of all the problems that pegged them back in previous years - an unthreatening bowling attack, losing games they were set to win, and the loss of key players at key moments. A seam attack comprising Ashok Dinda, Varun Aaron and Mitchell Starc does not inspire the most confidence, and their bowlers' lack of accuracy was perhaps best illustrated in the defeat to Mumbai Indians when they leaked 25 extras - the most this season.

On the batting front, their biggest weapon, Chris Gayle - who was not 100% fit all through - had a very forgettable campaign, accumulating 196 runs from nine innings. Virat Kohli, too, was far below par. The team began with two wins in the UAE, but a stunning last-over loss to Kolkata Knight Riders when it seemed that victory was close, triggered a poor run that included six defeats in seven games - something they ultimately never recovered from.

Whichever way one looks at it, a team with firepower like Gayle, Kohli, Yuvraj and de Villiers should not be finishing second from bottom on the table. Royal Challengers have now failed to reach the playoffs for the third season running.

Key stat

Royal Challengers' opening partnership was the least successful in this IPL. They tried the most combinations (6), scored the fewest runs (244), had the lowest average (17.42) at the poorest run-rate (6.39).

Best player

AB de Villiers was not as explosive as he has been in past seasons, but he still ended as the team's leading run-getter with 395 runs and three fifties from 13 innings. It speaks a lot about his abilities that de Villiers managed such numbers despite batting lower - several times too low, it seemed - down the order. His match-winning efforts included a 41-ball 89 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and a crucial 28 against Super Kings in Ranchi, where he delivered in difficult spinning conditions to keep Royal Challengers' playoff hopes alive. De Villiers also struck quick half-centuries against Kings XI and Rajasthan Royals, but it summed up Royal Challengers' season that even those knocks came in losing causes.

Poor performer

That the failure of Gayle and patchiness of Kohli that weakened Royal Challengers goes without saying, but there was another factor that left them quite unbalanced: Albie Morkel's no show. Royal Challengers (and Kohli in particular) have seen first-hand just how much damage Albie Morkel can do down the order, but he was unable to replicate the form that made him such a valuable asset for Chennai Super Kings over the years. After just four wickets and 45 runs from seven matches, Albie was dropped. If he had clicked, the fourth overseas player's slot would not have been such a round of musical chairs and the team would have had better balance.

Surprise package

Yuzvendra Chahal's legspin was a silver lining for Royal Challengers. Chahal, who had been released by Mumbai Indians without being given a proper run in the side, ended the season with 12 dismissals and an economy-rate of 7.09 - the second best among uncapped Indians (minimum 10 overs).

Memorable moment

Unfortunately for Royal Challengers, the image from their season that is most likely to be etched in everyone's memory is an irate Mitchell Starc going head-to-head against Kieron Pollard in the most heated altercation of the tournament so far. The incident occurred in the 17th over of Mumbai's innings at the Wankhede Stadium, when, after a few words, Starc bowled a delivery in Pollard's direction even as the batsman pulled away. Pollard responded by swinging his bat hard - appearing to threaten to throw it at the bowler - and it slipped out of his hand and fell on the leg side. Both players continued to exchange words before being whisked away from each other. Starc lost 50% of his match fee as a result, while Pollard was penalised 70%, penalties that were quite light on them many agreed.

Unused players

Sandeep Warrier and Tanmay Mishra.

Anuj Vignesh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on May 28, 2014, 22:59 GMT

    I wonder how RCB could go without Gayle. They seemed like a better side without him (except for their last game). Whether they should choose to go with Rossouw or Maddinson or both and release Gayle somewhere else. However Gayle wasn't at full fitness and thus didn't play as good as he could've if he were not injured. Ultimately if you go with Rossouw/Maddinson, they don't have a star player tag and so bowlers won't properly know their weaknesses and strengths, which would give RCB and element of suprise

  • AltafPatel on May 28, 2014, 17:14 GMT

    If experienced like AB, Albie comes down the order, batsman like Albie under used, how can you win ? AB hardly got a chance to score more than 25. Look at MI, CSK who played foreign players on top when they could not get a win. It's shameful, RCB despite having great line up in tournament, could not get to even semis, same as previous season.

  • android_user on May 28, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    Very poor captaincy... None of the players learnt from mistakes and they could have gone back and checked, what good things they have done for first 2 matches...

  • dummy4fb on May 28, 2014, 7:31 GMT

    Positives - 1). Yuvi's (376 runs, 3 fitys, 28 sixes, also bowled some good spells) and AB's (395 runs, 3 fifty's, 24 sixes) presence make their middle order deadly which was their weakness till last season. Those two also contributed most runs and match winning knocks for RCB, not Gayle or Kohli. 2). Starc's (death or powerplay) and Chahal's bowling. So there were only 4 heroes out of 21 member squad for RCB.

    Negatives - 1). Flop top order, they ALWAYS put the pressure in middle order and never gave a good start. 2). Gayle's super flop show throughout the season, his 10's and 20's in 30-40 balls, put ultimate pressure in middle. 3). Kohli's form, which unfortunately came in last two games, he also failed to build any inning and give a platform to Yuvi and AB, except in last 2 games. 4). They failed to find a stable and right combination. 5). Poor leadership from Kohli, everybody saw it. He couldn't motivate anyone on the field under pressure, in fact he was making helpless faces.

  • Greatest_Game on May 28, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    Bad leadership leads to bad results. Making the same mistakes match after match, and expecting different results - that is crazy!

  • caught_knott_bowled_old on May 28, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    RCB is the best example of how a team can lose the tournament right at the auction and off-the field. Poor picks at the auction (Yuvraj and Albie) and worse tactics in selecting the playing XI led to this poor performance. Virat may be a good batsman, but clearly, does not have the nous to be a captain. He is unable to spot talent and strategize for a tournament. Sadly, he doesn't have a Tom Moody or Stephen Fleming to give him wise counsel.

  • dummy4fb on May 28, 2014, 0:22 GMT

    @ROHITRAJ94 ON MAY 27, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    Both Virat Kohli & Gautam Gambhir have this temperament problem; not a good trait to have to be an effective leader. Such guys can never be "Team Builders". They may still win, through some brilliant performance from individual players. That way, Gautam was lucky to have a Narine & Uthappa. The one flash performance from Yusuf.

  • dummy4fb on May 28, 2014, 0:15 GMT

    1. Whydid they play an unfit Gayle? 2. Why AB was played way down the order? 3. What happened to Kohli's vaunted confidence? Did the poor form affect his confidence too? 4. Why this obsessive persistence with Dinda?

    One simple solution, which may work: Make AB the caption, from next season.

  • Bruisers on May 27, 2014, 21:57 GMT

    They were ordinary right through the season. Two of those five wins came against this year's minnows DD and another came against MI when they were on their five-match losing spree. They had a couple of single-handed wins - ABD against SRH and Yuvraj against DD. That win against CSK too was a bit of a fluke, with ABD and Yuvraj pulling them out of another definite-defeat-situation. There wasn't a single game in the entire season in which they put up a collective team performance. They didn't have the best batting lineup. They simply had some of the best batsmen in the team, that's all. They deserved to finish in the bottom two, and they did. And there's no point blaming the captain if all the players failed individually.

  • rohitraj94 on May 27, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    I dont understand why people think that virat kohli is the future captain of india,...have you seen how he reacts on the field ..shameful it is.... one particular incident which i remember is when kohli tried for a needless run out(as the batsman was already inside the crease when kohli got to the ball),the ball did'nt hit the stumps and it went for a boundary,..then he started yelling swear words at the fielder who he thought could have gotten to the ball after it didnt hit the stumps,...and you want to know who the fielder was,..it was muralidaran and he was yards away ,no one in the world could have saved that overthrow,(not abd,warner or any1 for that matter) this shows that kohli doesnt have that one captain must have,..THE ABILITY TO ACCEPT YOUR MISTAKE EVEN AS A CAPTAIN.....

    If rohit sharma is in good form ,..then i would prefer him to lead the indian team when dhoni steps down..

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