IPL 2015 May 23, 2015

Top order, bowling give RCB memorable season

Royal Challengers Bangalore put up significantly better performances compared to last year, but still have areas of concern to address come next season
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Royal Challengers Bangalore couldn't reach the final but had a much-improved season

Tournament overview

After three underachieving seasons, Royal Challengers Bangalore finally had reasons to be happy.

Their quick course-corrections after a few defeats revealed a team that was tactically agile. Their bowling continued to be top-notch with Mitchell Starc continuing his fantastic form and the Indian complement of Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel and S Aravind punching above its weight. There was vital all-round intervention from David Wiese as well.

The batting department, on the other hand, was largely a three-man assault system in AB de Villiers (513 runs), Chris Gayle (491) and Virat Kohli (505). While the first two were more about pounding opponents to dust, Kohli was the more composed counterpoint, fortifying one end and finishing games.

Their Indian batsmen didn't do as much consistently enough, but Daniel Vettori, the team's head coach, thought otherwise. "There's limited opportunities when those three guys step up. You can't expect the same amount of runs from the middle order," he said after the loss to Chennai Super Kings in the second Qualifier. "Mandeep (Singh) won us two games. Everytime he's asked to perform, he did. Sarfaraz (Khan) similarly. He only had two opportunities to score runs, once against Rajasthan Royals and once today (against Chennai Super Kings), and he did that."

Vettori admitted his team had "battled for balance" last year. "I was really content with the make-up of the side this year. This year we got it right and we are really happy with the improvement."

High Point

Royal Challengers' 71-run victory against Royals in the Eliminator was a tour de force of everything that had carried them up to that point. One of the Big Three - de Villiers - stepped up with the bat; Mandeep provided a support-act that outshone de Villiers' effort; and some purposeful fielding and bowling: save for Wiese, none of the bowlers went for more than 5.5 runs an over. More importantly, the performance revealed a willingness to embrace the pressure of the big stage.

Low Point

They would be grateful that their lowest point came at the start of the tournament. After winning their opening game, against Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers lost three games on the trot. This period coincided with injuries to Starc and Adam Milne and the constant shuffling of players to fill up the fourth foreign player's slot. Milne was eventually replaced by Aravind, who turned out to be an excellent value addition.

Top of the class

It would only be fair to say that Starc was the catalysing force behind Royal Challengers' turnaround. He carried his form from the World Cup to pick up 20 wickets at an average of 14.55 with an economy rate of 6.76 runs an over. His was an intimidating presence both at the start and end of an innings.

Under-par performer

With 141 runs from 11 innings at an average of 12.81, Dinesh Karthik was barely the middle-order marshall that Royal Challengers would have wanted when they picked him up for Rs 10.5 crore at the auction. The team resisted the temptation to replace him with another wicketkeeper, Manvinder Bisla, and hoped for that one telling contribution which never came. But Vettori called him "amazing from a wicket-keeping perspective and a leadership perspective".

Tip for 2016

If there would be one criticism of Royal Challengers, it would be their tendency to not go all the way after faltering at crucial junctures. The dropped catches against Super Kings in the second Qualifier potentially dashed their chances of making the final. Also, if the uncapped Indian batsmen could shoulder greater load, it would make them a more rounded unit should the likes of de Villiers, Kohli and Gayle have a bad run.

Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Himanshu on May 24, 2015, 17:08 GMT

    @MADR ON MAY 23, 2015, 15:42 GMT: If there are so many better bowlers than Jadeja, then how come he's still being in the team. Why don't you realise how important he's for the fortunes of India's performances ahead. Oh, I'm really sorry.. I know you won't get my sir-casm this time again, and I'm really sorry if you misunderstood my this comment too. Sigh.. If you really follow my comments, as you yourself claim to, I'd have liked it much more had you been doing that from a bit earlier, for you would have noticed me appreciating Dhoni's captaincy whenever I felt he was worth it. Apart from few valid points which we've discussed earlier, most of my criticism on Dhoni revolves around him giving too much chances to Jadeja and co. in the National side, upon which you yourself seem to have put a stamp. Now will you clarify what else I need to do to pass your self-created exam of 'constructive criticism'??

  • Bryan on May 24, 2015, 14:41 GMT

    My biggest issue with RCB still is its batting. 3 batsmen finish with 490+ runs and after that next highest performer is MS with 157 runs the 39th highest. RCB needs to have another 2 batters able to score 250+ runs and stop depending on the big 3 to score all their runs. Hope they get it right next yr

  • Dummy on May 24, 2015, 13:54 GMT

    Its my personal opinion that Instead of making Virat Kohli as a captain if we go with AB as a captain then it will be very Good for RCB ..I like Virat kohli as one of the Best player but not as a Captain. Anyway Starc nd Mandeep singh are the major factors who helped RCB leads to this stage...Good Luck RCB for Nexy Year..

  • Nilesh on May 24, 2015, 12:58 GMT

    RCB should be very happy that they made it to the Final 3 this year.They do need to take a look at their team composition though. The core is: Top 3 (Gayle, Kohli, ABD), a middle order player (Mandeep Singh) and 2 excellent bowling performers (Starc and Chahal). They found a couple of steady performers that they could continue with (S.Aravind, Sarfraz Khan, H Patel) and I personally thought that David Wiese did well in the role of the all-rounder (especially at the beginning of the tournament). They need to re-think DK v/s Bisla, solidify middle order (Zol?), hope 1-2 regular pacers get form next year (Aaron? Dinda? Abu Nechim?) and get 1 -2 more consistent spinner (Maybe get someone like Kuldeep Yadav or Hogg). Also get 2-3 middle order allrounders (including overseas players).

  • Darius19880701 on May 24, 2015, 12:47 GMT

    cricket doesnt revolve around three batsmen everybody should contribute and gayle abd and virat what about the local talent they had enough chances to prove how good they but instead found it difficult to score so if it was up to you indian supporters you would not have foreign players in the side just stop all this now because i would not watch the ipl if it was not for foreign players and i bet all the other countrys would not even published the ipl on theire channels if that was the case if rcb won the against csk all praises would have gon to them but now you are finding fault with theire performance some you win and some you loose thats why this game is so damn interesting

  • ADARSH on May 24, 2015, 10:36 GMT

    The main problem of RCB is that they are complacent and over confident. The likes of Gayle, Virat , ABD and Starc are surely world's best in business but they are complacent at least Virat is highly over confident. The stats itself speak about it. RCB are the team that lost more matches from the touching distance of victory. RCB's final against DC after restricting them at 143, RCB lost against the same opposition in 2012 when they just needed to get 130 odd and seal a play off spot, RCB lost to CSK in 2012 when CSK needed more than 40 runs in 2 overs and Albie hit Virat for 28 runs, they lost against the same opposition due to RP's no ball, RCB lost to RR when RR needed 68 from 4 overs bowling wayward deliveries to Steve Smith and Faulkner. They lost to Killer Miller when Virat dropped a sitter and he made a 38 ball 100. RCB play fearless cricket but they are over confident.

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2015, 7:38 GMT

    RCB is the IPL version of South Africa. It says all.

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2015, 3:32 GMT

    Play DK at NO 3 and abd at 4. You will know how well he plays. Dk bats at 5 , he comes in at 18th over,cant expect much from him. This time RCB bowling looked good,with harshal patel and chawal picking up wickets. Next time Adam milne will be back,so RCB can give starc a few games rest and play Milne. Another exiting prospect of what RCB has is vijay zol ,he is also a very good player.

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2015, 2:40 GMT

    i don't know why they bought badrinath in the auction he is the ideal player to bat at no.3 when a wicket falls inside first 5 overs it was his role in CSK he should have played instead of sarfaraz or mandeep they should retain dinesh kartik for next year he was a flop in 2012 when he was in MI in 2012 and in next year he scored more than 550 runs for them in 2013 and they should buy atleast 3 more spinners in next auction

  • victor on May 23, 2015, 20:06 GMT

    The biggest problem RCB has weakness in playing big games. Unfortunately, Gayle, Kohli and AB, all three are not big match players. They spectacularly failed in previous big matches when they played for their respective countries. But all three are great talents somehow when it comes to important matches, they haven't made it big in those matches.

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