Underperforming stars underpin another barren season for RCB

They came closer than they did in the previous two years, but it still wasn't good enough to end their trophy drought

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis did not quite make the impact RCB would have wanted from them this season  •  BCCI

Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis did not quite make the impact RCB would have wanted from them this season  •  BCCI

Where they finished
Third, having made it through to the second Qualifier after being beaten in the Eliminator for two straight seasons. In that sense, it was an improvement from IPL 2021. The search for a title, however, will extend to a 15th year.
Season in a nutshell
As has been the case in the previous two seasons, Royal Challengers Bangalore started well, surged to the top half and then endured a mid-season slump that turned into a mad scramble for the playoffs at the back end. In the final week, they were hoping for a few results to go their way and the stars aligned perfectly, with Mumbai Indians beating Delhi Capitals to allow Royal Challengers to squeeze in as the fourth team.
They weren't helped by a misfiring top order. Faf du Plessis blew hot and cold with the bat. Anuj Rawat, the man they slotted in to partner him, lost his place midway through the season. Virat Kohli managed all of two half-centuries, and his move from No. 3 to the top hardly made a difference as he continued to struggle in the powerplay. Barring the final league game against Gujarat Titans where he showed traces of his dominating best, it was a season to forget for the former captain.
Glenn Maxwell did well in patches, both with bat and ball, and Dinesh Karthik the finisher wrote another chapter to a fairy-tale script that led to his comeback to India's T20I side at 36, a year after he contemplated giving up the game to become a broadcaster. Harshal Patel built on a record-breaking 2021 season by showing his death-overs mastery with his bag of tricks.
Ultimately, what went against them was the manner of defeat. When they were good, they managed close wins. When they were bad, they were simply blown away, like against Rajasthan Royals in the second Qualifier.
Questionable move
Their continued persistence with Mohammed Siraj, one of their retentions. Siraj conceded 31 sixes, the most-ever by a bowler in a single season. His economy rate of 10.07 this year was the worst for a bowler across IPL history (min 50 overs). Siraj was also only the third bowler to finish with an economy rate in excess of 10 in any T20 tournament (Min: 300 balls).
Find of the season
Wanindu Hasaranga played just two games last season but had a bigger role this time around with the team having had to rebuild due to the auctions. They broke the bank for him to buy him for INR 10.75 crores, and he repaid the faith by becoming the tournament's highest wicket-taker at the time of being knocked out. His impact was such that Royal Challengers didn't miss Yuzvendra Chahal.
Notable mentions
Not picked at the auction despite being touted a "special player" last year, Rajat Patidar found a way back in due to an injury to Luvnith Sisodia. He made a mark by becoming the first uncapped player to hit a century in the playoffs to oust Lucknow Super Giants. In the second Qualifier, his half-century was among the bright lights for Royal Challengers amid a batting failure.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo