x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Indian Premier League: Style matched by substance at Royal Challengers Bangalore

The Bangalore franchise have all the resources and star power to win the Twenty20 league title, writes Osman Samiuddin.

Chris Gayle, right, and captain Virat Kohli form the core of the Royal Challengers' batting. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP
Chris Gayle, right, and captain Virat Kohli form the core of the Royal Challengers' batting. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP

One of the handful of teams in the IPL that truly capture the ethos of the enterprise. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have always known that what happens off the field is as important, if not more so, than what happens on it.

Bollywood stars are regular attendees at their matches. Their owner, the liqour baron Vijay Mallya, is as flamboyant as they come. Belatedly they have started acquiring the kind of players who fit their profile; Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan, David Warner at one stage, Virat Kohli from the beginning.

And the first season apart, they have been good to watch in both spheres, so much so that it has largely been forgotten that they started in the IPL in 2008 with, basically, about as dour a Test side as you could put together.

Prospects

With the kind of squad they have, they will always be a threat to the upper reaches of the league. The presence in a Twenty20 side of Gayle alone enhances the percentages of successes many times over. Add to it Dilshan, Kohli and currently one of the best batsmen in the world across formats, AB de Villiers, and it is a frightening batting order.

Their auction purchases this year are intriguing too; Ravi Rampaul and Moises Henriques will be vital additions.

So too might be the veteran but slightly forgotten RP Singh, because it is their bowling that needs strengthening.

Star foreign signing

For a very, very long time, Henriques has been the next big thing in Australian cricket. He has not quite broken through though this season, with his debut in the Test side in India, it would appear his career has turned.

He started well before fading drastically in the Tests, but he is the kind of young, athletic multi-purpose cricketer any Twenty20 side would snap up (let alone one at a relative bargain price of US$ 300,000 (Dh1.1 million)).

His batting is good enough for any format, and his medium-pace might be particularly suited to Twenty20.

If he plays enough games, the all-rounder could be one of the buys of the season.

Star Indian player

No young star shines brighter in India these days than Kohli, and RCB have had him since the very beginning. Though his international form dipped just a little (only normal, given the heady heights his ODI form had begun to touch), he is still a phenomenal batsman.

And he has been a big player for RCB in the IPL.

This season, they have made him captain, precursor no doubt to his eventually taking over the national reins as well. He has led them before in the absences of Daniel Vettori, winning six of 10 games as leader.

Could be an inspired moved.

Previous history

Apart from that horrendously ill-judged inaugural season, RCB have been one of the league's heavyweights.

In the league, they have finished third, fourth, first and fifth since then and until last season, had finished runners-up twice and semi-finalists three seasons in a row.

But a club of their ambition and resources know that only winning the title is ultimately good enough.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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