In the history of the Indian Premier League, the term perennial underachievers has been stuck like glue to one franchise and that is Royal Challengers Bangalore. The team has a galaxy of legends, yet they have always stumbled.
They have lost the final three times, yet they have also been eliminated before the knockout stages five times. They have tasted the wooden spoon two times, that too in the last three editions.
Rohit Sharma has won the title four times, MS Dhoni has achieved it three times but Virat Kohli, the third of the famous triumvirate that has ruled Indian cricket for close to two decades, has not yet had the success of the IPL.
In every IPL that has been played, Royal Challengers Bangalore fans put out the caption “Ee Saala Cup Namde”. It means that this year, the cup is ours. Everytime they fail, this same caption is used to troll them mercilessly.
Every Royal Challengers Bangalore match is filled with tension. It is filled with a roller-coaster of emotion and tragedy, comedy and breath-taking audacity.
However, in IPL 2020, the term ‘Ee Saala Cup Namde’ might come true for Royal Challengers Bangalore. They might finally break years of heartbreak for the fans. In 2020, when things have been so different and everything has had a new perspective, it makes sense that a team that has underachieved so much suddenly strikes gold. It could also be the factor of the leap year connection with the IPL.
In this decade, in 2012 and 2016, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad broke the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians dominance for the first time. In 2020, which is also a leap year, a third team might finally lay their hands on the trophy.
Balanced Batting and bowling
When one looks at previous IPL teams, there was a massive issue of balance. If the batting was strong, then the bowling was weak beyond measure. The classic case was in the period from 2011 to 2016.
At that time, Royal Challengers Bangalore had Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and to a certain extent, KL Rahul. However, the rest of the middle order and the bowling was a liability.
The opposition teams knew the blueprint. Get rid of Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers cheaply and the rest of the team would fold. It did not help Royal Challengers Bangalore that they did not have favourable bowling conditions, as the M Chinnaswamy stadium was flat and the boundaries were short.
In IPL 2020, there is ample talent to ease the pressure from the likes of Kohli and de Villiers. Aaron Finch has given them an aggressive start, Devdutt Padikkal has been impressive. Shivam Dube has chipped in while Chris Morris at the death overs has been sensational. In a big relief from previous IPLs, the bowling is much stronger.
Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal in addition to Morris have been brilliant, although Sundar has gone for runs in the last two games.
Captain with focus
The fact that the IPL is being played in September to November might prove to be a blessing in disguise. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are no major ICC events in 2020 and that has given Virat Kohli clear sense and purpose.
In every IPL from 2017, there was some major distraction that was eating away Kohli’s focus. In 2017, there was the ICC Champions Trophy after the IPL. In 2018, Kohli’s determination to erase his ghosts of England primarily played on his mind.
In IPL 2019, there was all the distraction of leading India to the World Cup. Now, after a gap of six months, Kohli is fresh and rested. He has the support of AB de Villiers and Finch in the batting. In the bowling, Saini, Chahal and Sundar are proving their mettle.
With the balance in both departments solid and with the batting already supporting the geniuses of Kohli and de Villiers, it may come as no surprise that Royal Challengers Bangalore might win IPL 2020 this time.
Before IPL 2012, there were many memes which floated on that if Kolkata Knight Riders win the IPL, pigs might fly. Now, in IPL 2020, Royal Challengers Bangalore have a chance to shut down trolls and memes forever.