In this series, we compile all-time XIs for each IPL team. The rules are simple: the player has to have played at least 20 matches for the franchise (across the IPL and the Champions League T20); one player is eligible for selection in multiple franchises if he so merits, and you can pick only four overseas players.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Royal Challengers Bangalore are one of the most followed franchises in cricket and have a loyal fan base, despite repeated failures. RCB have made the IPL finals on three occasions, but are yet to win a title. As a team, they have been highly reliant on just two or three players over the last few seasons, and have never been able to put together a potent bowling unit. Among all the teams in this series, RCB was the toughest all-time XI to put together, because very few players were retained by the franchise for a long enough period to make a case, and the gap between the top three players and the rest was huge.
By sheer performance across years, six players were automatic picks. Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers were RCB's best batsmen by far. These three have contributed close to 56% of RCB's runs across 12 seasons - despite both Gayle and de Villiers not being part of the franchise for all 12 seasons. Among the bowlers, the spin duo of Anil Kumble and Yuzvendra Chahal were automatic selections due to the weight of wickets and an excellent economy rate. Among the zillion domestic pacers that RCB have tried out, only Vinay Kumar stood out. He had some tough seasons but his performance for RCB in the first few editions was remarkable and he is the franchise's second-highest wicket taker with 80 wickets at an impressive strike rate of 17.8.
There were two overseas spots left. Since 2011, the dependency on Gayle and de Villiers is evident - barring Tillakaratne Dilshan, no other overseas batsman has scored more than 250 runs over nine seasons. If we go back until 2008, we have just two more options in Ross Taylor and Jacques Kallis. Taylor, with 733 runs at an impressive strike rate of 148.68 helped RCB to the finals in 2009 after a disastrous 2008 season. Dilshan and Kallis usually play in the top three, and this team requires more stability in the middle. Hence we went with Taylor. The last overseas slot was a direct shootout between Dale Steyn and Mitchell Starc. Both have very similar stats but Starc's strike rate and average are slightly superior to that of Steyn while Steyn's economy rate (6.98) is a tad better than Starc's (7.16). Starc's death-overs bowling in more batting friendly seasons of the IPL and his wicket-taking ability put him ahead of Steyn for the last overseas slot.
With four bowling options sealed, the choice for the last bowling slot was between Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and S Aravind. Zaheer and Aravind had very similar stats. Both played 44 games and took 49 and 51 wickets respectively. Although Zaheer was more economical, Aravind was chosen ahead of him since he had a much better strike rate and played a crucial role in the two seasons that RCB made the final - in 2011 and 2016.
The debate for the other slots was never-ending, with very limited options to choose from. With very few impactful performance from most players, we had to settle for average performers. The all-rounders and middle-order domestic batsmen who did well for RCB over the years were Rahul Dravid, Mandeep Singh, Robin Uthappa and Saurabh Tiwary. All these players had the odd match-winning knock but no one really had a dominant season. Among these players, Uthappa had the best numbers (five fifties with a strike rate of 140) and he can bat anywhere in the top six. We picked him for the finishing kick he can provide. Finally, with five specialist bowlers and five specialist batsmen picked, the last slot could have been either a specialist wicketkeeper or a middle order batsman/all-rounder. Due to the lack of options in the latter, we chose the former. Only two wicketkeepers were eligible - Parthiv Patel and KB Arun Karthik. Parthiv had superior performances and was slotted in as the opener to partner Gayle.
RCB have always given the impression of being a collection of superstars more than a team, and the selection of their all-time XI reflects that. The trio of Gayle, de Villiers and Kohli have played together for a long time, but you would struggle to think of them as a team. This team looks a tad lopsided with the absence of a genuine allrounder. So there are six batsmen, including the keeper, and five bowlers. Just like all RCB teams, the all-time XI is also unfortunately highly reliant on Gayle, Kohli and De Villiers to bail them out.
Playing XI stats for RCB
1. Chris Gayle
91 matches (2011-2017)
Runs 3420, Ave 43.29, SR 154.40