How the Royal Challengers Bangalore have miscalculated over the years

From contenders in the early years to bottom feeders in recent seasons - a look at how things have gone wrong for the team

Varun Shetty
Varun Shetty
It's been that sort of run over the last few seasons for the Royal Challengers Bangalore  •  BCCI

It's been that sort of run over the last few seasons for the Royal Challengers Bangalore  •  BCCI

As the Royal Challengers Bangalore look to arrest their slump over the last three years, they have assembled a team that looks more balanced than the one from last season - when they finished eighth. But what came before? Here's a look at some miscalculations they have made over the years.
The first season squad
RCB's first ever IPL squad was the last time they came close to being a truly representative team for Bangalore and Karnataka, complete with a local captain and coach. That happened to be the only positive for anyone in their fan base; because, while RCB had several big cricketing names in that squad, with experience and success in ODI cricket, you could have counted the T20 specialists on your fingers. Though T20 cricket itself hadn't fully evolved by 2008, one must wonder what the plan was with Rahul Dravid, Wasim Jaffer, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Jacques Kallis as the top order. Dravid and Kallis did grow into important IPL players over the next few years, but all of them together as Plan A? It was never going to work.
Corey Anderson at the death...
...was a good idea. If it was a batting innings. In 2014.
Yet in 2018, the New Zealand allrounder - who had battled a few injuries since his 36-ball ODI hundred - found himself with the task of bowling overs 16, 18 and 20 to MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu and Dwayne Bravo. Chennai Super Kings had needed 71 off 30 and won with two balls to spare.
The miscalculation wasn't that particular choice by itself. Anderson had been brought in to replace Nathan Coulter-Nile, who had been withdrawn, and would ostensibly have been the strike bowler and death-overs specialist for them that season. Replacing him with an allrounder who hadn't bowled in over a year before the season began was an error that led to many imbalances, and many painful slog-overs experiences that season.
Before 2018, there was...2017
The year after they were runners-up, RCB spent Rs 12 crore (about US$1,650,000) to acquire English fast bowler Tymal Mills, who was rising quickly as a T20 freelancer at the time. While the choice itself wasn't too bad, the money spent on him turned out to be an extravagance. This wasn't entirely RCB's fault - a new pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium proved so spinner-friendly that even Virat Kohli managed only 308 runs all season, after having made 973 in 2016. He was the only one to breach 300 runs in the season in a line-up that included Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Shane Watson and Kedar Jadhav. Mills played only five games all season.
But while circumstances that year might have been out of their control, the auction that followed was. And in that auction, RCB ended up losing KL Rahul, Jadhav, Watson and Chris Gayle.
Kohli's batting position
In the 2016 season, Kohli made a record four centuries and opened the batting during each of those innings. It was, arguably, RCB's strongest batting line-up ever and showed that Kohli's best batting position in the IPL is as an opener. All five of his centuries for RCB have come when he opened, and his average and strike rate when opening are vastly superior to his good returns at No. 3.
Yet, because of all the different auction strategies that RCB have used in recent years, the middle order has ended up needing bolstering. This has meant that Kohli is not always a lock-in as opener, which he would have been in a balanced team. Subsequently, de Villiers is also never quite a lock-in at any of three, four or five in the order. To their credit, both players have still managed to be mainstays, regardless of batting positions. But the team's recruitment strategies have not allowed them to be entirely at their best recently.
The coach carousel
RCB's most successful phase came between 2009 and 2014: they made two IPL finals, finished third in 2010, and were runners-up in the Champions League T20. All of that happened under the leadership of Ray Jennings as coach, with Anil Kumble and Daniel Vettori as captains. Vettori succeeded Jennings as coach and had a sustained run as well, keeping the job till 2018. Since then, the only constant in the leadership has been Kohli. At the start of this season, RCB's head coach will be Simon Katich, their third in as many seasons. Only Kings XI Punjab have changed coaches more often.
The signings of Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Karthik
RCB's auction strategy generally has been to overspend on some players and leave little with which to achieve balance in the rest of the squad. The signing of Yuvraj Singh for Rs 14 crore in the 2014 auction, in what was then the record for the highest auction price (before Delhi Daredevils broke it for the same player the next year) was an example. In 2015, they fought the Daredevils all the way up to the Rs 16 crore mark for Singh again before losing out on the new record bid. They then splurged on Dinesh Karthik - Rs 10.5 crore. It remains one of the worst signings in IPL history, as Karthik made 141 runs in 16 matches before he was released.
* 1231 IST This article previousy stated Tymal Mills' auction price as INR 1.2 crore. That error has been corrected.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo