Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 September 2020

IPL 2020: Mike Hesson says Royal Challengers Bangalore need collective effort to spark turnaround

Virat Kohli's team have underachieved despite star names in squad

Mike Hesson says Royal Challengers Bangalore will need to be less reliant on their superstar names if they are to shake off years of underachievement at the IPL.

Since they were runners up in 2016, RCB have finished last twice in the competition. On the other occasion, they were third last.

That woeful form has come despite the fact they have had all-time great players, such as captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers within their ranks.

The franchise have added more stardust ahead of this campaign in the UAE, with Dale Steyn re-joining, and his fellow South African quick Chris Morris arriving on a big-money deal.

Australia’s captain Aaron Finch and England’s Moeen Ali, who are currently involved in a series against each other in the UK, are also part of the squad.

However, Hesson, RCB’s director of cricket operations, says turning around the sides fortunes will require a squad effort, not just that of a few household names.

“We spent a long time in review after last year, leading up to the auction, looking at where we were strong, where we needed to retain, and what gaps we needed to fill,” Hesson told RCB’s social media channel.

“We spent a huge amount of time identifying who those players were, and more importantly what the roles were.

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Mumbai Indians' recreation centre

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“There has been a lot of talk over finishing the innings with the ball in the past. We have some really good experienced players in that space.

“We also feel like we can improve on the players we have already had as well. They are a year wiser and a year smarter.

“Also, bowling at the death at Abu Dhabi will be very different to what it was at [RCB’s home ground, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium].

“You certainly won’t hear us talking about one or two players in particular. For us to perform as a team, we are going to rely on the squad.”

For his part, Kohli had said that he has “never felt so calm going into a season before,” and that he feels “in a much better space, much more balanced, when it comes to environment of IPL.”

That calmness might have been inspired by the move to the UAE, and even the indirect consequences of bio-securing the tournament.

That includes the social distancing measures which are in place, both within normal life at present, but especially in the secure bubbles in which the team’s are forced to inhabit at the moment.

It would be understandable that such conditions might appeal to somebody of Kohli’s level of celebrity.

That is not the only aspect about a season in exile in the UAE which might work in RCB’s favour, according to Hesson.

He suggests the team, who start their campaign against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday, September 21 at Dubai International Stadium, have an attack that is well appointed for the conditions.

“For Abu Dhabi, I think the seamers have played a big role there,” Hesson said.

“It is a bigger ground, so spinners come into the equation, but it probably doesn’t spin as much as the other two.

“Sharjah skids and can spin as well. We have loads of information on all these grounds, but we also need to have that ability to adjust to conditions on the day as well.

“[Spin] will play a part, but obviously [RCB’s home ground] Chinnaswamy Stadium is different as well. That is a nice batting wicket which skids on, and has smaller boundaries and higher scores.

“Over here, I think there will be some games where 150-160 will be a good score, and all three will be slightly different.”

The IPL season starts on Saturday, September 19, when Mumbai Indians face Chennai Super Kings at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Sixty matches will be played across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, with the season culminating in the final – the venue for which has yet to be announced – on November 10.

Updated: September 8, 2020 08:07 PM

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