IPL…T20 WC and the Phenomena that is…RCB

IPL…often called as Festival of India. Though, this year, the viewership was lesser as compared to previous years. But, the tournament was as interesting as any other year. After a long time, we got a new Champion that too under a first-time Captain…Gujarat Titans. While the Champion teams MI and CSK were at the bottom, we saw a resurgence of the RR franchise. PBKS, SRH and KKR had some fire but weren’t consistent enough to make the next round. DC was a little unlucky, but LSG played quite well in the debut season. Though my team RCB couldn’t win it, they won enough hearts, and there is a special section in this blog on it. Also, with T20 World Cup coming, we have a lot of work to do.

Building a Team in the Auction

This is perhaps the most important step in team building. If you don’t build a strong and balanced team ticking most (if not all) boxes in the mega-auction, then it is very difficult to get the performance right. Trading and Mini-auction don’t help much as all the best quality players are already occupied by that time. This time, also we saw the value of auctions. Top teams like Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings finished at the bottom because they failed to do exactly that. After that, however hard they tried to fit in the combination, it wasn’t possible. On the other hand, teams like Lucknow Super Giants and Delhi Capitals were great teams at the auction. LSG looked great in the tournament and DC too played well but was a little unfortunate. Many of its overseas players were in and out,  the ‘Nortje for Rabada’ bet completely backfired and most of the time, they weren’t able to play their best XI. The value of the auction can be seen for all other teams, who performed and those who couldn’t.

A Photo Gallery of Post-match Scenes After IPL 2022 Final

Pic: Gujarat Titans

GUJARAT: A New Champion under a New Leader

The biggest Suprise Package of this IPL was the Gujarat Titans. Their auction was a bit average, and no one actually expected anything big from them. But, some of the players that no one thought of, turned out matchwinners for them. The finishing duo of David Miller and Rahul Tewatia were their biggest USP. They lost just 1 game while chasing, speaks a lot. Even their uncapped players always performed above expectations. Every match GT had a new hero winning the game for the team. They managed good starts even with Saha and Wade at the top. Gill did show his attacking mode and gave a hint that he is a Future, All format player. Rashid Khan was in a different league altogether and stole many shows not just as a bowler but also as a hard-hitting pinch-hitter. Hardik himself was very mature and consistent with his all-round performance, making useful runs as well as chipping in with wickets. Also, without any doubt, Ashish Nehra and Gary Kirsten too were great guides off the field. As a leader too, Hardik was really composed and spot on. Now, in the already tough captaincy tussle (after Rohit) between Rahul, Pant, Iyer and Bumrah, there is a new entrant.

Also Read: My Blog reliving India’s 2011 World Cup Victory

India’s Pool of Young Talents

Another thing that IPL would be always known for showcasing India’s pool of young talent on the world stage. We can be assured of the set of talent that we have on our back. In this IPL too we saw many players of different ranges making their marks. Whether it was Mohsin Khan (LSG), Ayush Badoni (LSG), Sai Kishore (GT), Mukesh Chowdhary (CSK), or Tilak Verma (MI). Even some players, we had seen earlier, made their knocks at the selection door further loud, like Arshdeep Singh (PBKS), Rahul Tripathi (SRH), Rinku Singh (KKR), Rahul Tewatia (GT) or Rajat Patidar (RCB). But, the one name that perhaps gained the most popularity and deservingly so, was the Emerging Player…UMRAN MALIK.

Umran Malik "Breath Of Fresh Air" For Pace Bowling: Former Australia Cricketer | Cricket News

Pic: Umran Malik

The young lad from Jammu, coming from an extremely humble background was just inducted as a net bowler in SRH last year, that too after Abdul Samad (another J&K and SRH player) suggested his team do so. In just one game, that he got last year he was impressive as hell and this year he was RETAINED (for 4 crores). One match after the other, his sensational performance kept on winning hearts across the country. But, here is a very important thing that we need to remember. We don’t have to bring him haphazardly into the national team just like that. He has a great pace and a great future but still needs to learn control, variations and many more things. If nurtured properly, has the potential to be India’s surprise package at the 2023 ODI World Cup.

Focus on the T20 WORLD CUP

Once the IPL is over, our sole focus should be on the upcoming T20 World Cup. We can’t repeat our past mistakes and this time we have to be sure of our BEST XI. But this won’t be easy as once the senior players return, some tough calls will have to be made. Our opening is very well fixed with Rohit and Rahul. In the middle order, I think SKY is ahead of Shreyas. Also, DK and Hardik have very much solidified their place as finishers in the team. I know, it’s hard but as of now, Pant will find it very difficult to get in the XI, as he has been struggling with form lately. Also, many critics are of the opinion that VIRAT KOHLI should NOT be in the squad as perhaps they want more young and hard-hitting players. I don’t know about others, but my team will surely comprise the 2-time ‘Player of the Tournament’. Most probably this will also be his LAST T20 outing (My Prediction).

Coming to bowling, I don’t think, there is a need to carry more than 2 spinners in Australia. If Chahal is fixed, the competition is between Jadeja and Axar, though the former too is struggling with form, so it will be a tough choice, In the worst case, I don’t think even Tewatia would be a bad option. Regarding pacers, I had little doubt on Bhuvi, but he has posted a strong comeback lately, and Deepak being injured means he is almost certain to make it. Bumrah is anyways fixed. Harshal Patel would a great pick, as his variation would be a great treat on the Australian wickets. The recent form keeps Avesh ahead of Shami, but that would be a choice to make. We have quite a few more pace options such as Arshdeep Singh, Natarajan, Shardul and Prasidh Krishna. My pick would be Natarajan, as it will provide much balance and variety to our pace attack. Anyways, the final selection can only be made after looking at the upcoming performances against England, Australia and in the Asia Cup.

Also Read: My Blog on Virat’s stepping down as Captain

RCB: The Unexplainable Phenomena

RCB…the only attribute that was attached with them was ‘They can’t Win’. Even before the IPL would start, people would straightaway write the team off, thinking this will hardly finish at 6th, 7th or maybe even at the bottom. Well, they were not very wrong, because the performance of RCB over the years was fairly inconsistent. This is despite the fact that this team has not one but several RCB records, including the highest as well as the lowest IPL scores. In 2016, we came the closest to the title, riding on the Epic Performance of VIRAT KOHLI, but ending in Heartbreak. The only regret we have is that VIRAT hasn’t been able to hold the trophy so far. But, even after leaving Captaincy, RCB was, is and will always be VIRAT’s Team.  All of this changed in 2020, the year of the pandemic. RCB made a structured staff for the team, with a specific person appointed for each department, Batting, Spin, Pace and even Strength Conditioning and Scouting. Other than this, the sharp mind of MIKE HESSON was appointed to keep a look on everything as the ‘Head of Cricket Management’. Simon Katich was also appointed as the Head Coach, but due to personal reasons he stepped down in Mid-2021 and Sanjay Bangar has been holding that post since then.

Since 2020, the turnaround, that this team has gone through is just phenomenal. For the first time, since 2013, RCB started its campaign with a win (which seems strange but holds great value as an RCB Fan). The inclusion of many young guns started making a difference (Devdutt and Siraj). Out of the first 10 games, the team went on to win 7 games (opposite equation as compared to earlier editions). But, the main difference that came was in the attitude, there was no chopping and changing after every 1-2 games like earlier. Unfortunately, after 10 games, the team lost its steam and went on to lose the next 4 games and then the Eliminator as well. In 2021, RCB started off even stronger with 4 wins in 4 games. The induction of GLENN MAXWELL and HARSHAL PATEL was turning out to be the Trump Card. They won 5 out of the first 7 matches, till the tournament was halted due to the second wave outbreak. Once the tournament restarted they struggled a bit initially but regained their momentum back to finish with 9 wins in 14 games. Unfortunately, again the team failed to go past the Eliminator barrier. But, Maxwell posted as many as 6 Fifties, and many valuable and consistent scores, all in tough situations (he hasn’t scored a single 50 in IPL since 2014). Harshal went on to pick 32 wickets and become the highest ever wicket-taker in IPL history (at par with DJ Bravo but in lesser games).

Photo) The loss in IPL 2016 final still bites: Kohli | Guerilla Cricket

Pic: RCB 2016 Heartbreak

RCB Fan Army Official on Twitter: "LOYALTY = RCB Fans ❤️ Do you agree? 🤘🏽 #RcbFanArmy #RCB #IPL2020 #IPL #Bengaluru #RoyalChallengersBangalore" / Twitter

Pic: RCB Insane Fanbase

In 2022, came the mega auction. RCB used this opportunity in the best way possible. Virat, Maxwell and Siraj were the ones retained by the management. As Virat had already said that he won’t be leading the team anymore, RCB trusted Faf Du Plessis with the job, who also performed quite well as a batsman as well as the captain. Purchases of Dinesh Karthik and Josh Hazlewood were spot on. While DK strengthened RCB’s finishing (which was a weak link earlier), Hazlewood brought a never-seen-before edge to our bowling. I was a little sceptic about the pick of Hasaranga over Chahal, but he proved me wrong, and I am very happy about it. Hasarnaga was a game-changer bowler with his variations and picked 25 wickets in the tournament. Also, Rajat Patidar was an overnight star for RCB with his century in the Eliminator and many more consistent scores. The biggest achievement for RCB was, that they were no longer dependent on 1-2 players, but every match saw a new Hero coming and almost everyone giving their contribution to the overall performance of the team. Though, it needed some luck to get into the Play-Offs. The win of MI over DC would be forever etched into the memories of all RCB Fans. With this, RCB became the FIRST team in the last 3 years to make it to the playoffs all 3 times. This time, they even breached the Eliminator barrier as well with a thrilling win over LSG. Unfortunately, rather very, unfortunately, RCB failed to make a challenging score against RR which led to its elimination from the tournament. It fell just 2 steps before the Trophy. But now RCB is no longer that Inconsistent team that people used to make fun of.

Even regarding Fanbase, very few fanbases come as close to RCB. All this is despite this team hasn’t won any trophy. MI and CSK are the two most successful teams and they also have a huge fanbase, which is quite understandable. And, KKR has more SRKians (except me) as fans than the actual cricket fans. All this love and affection has made RCB one of the MOST popular teams in the World. Every year, the fans get ready with full enthusiasm and cheer for their team, even when it loses and gets knocked out, there is no anger or embarrassment, just a little sadness, before they get ready again for the next year, with the same or perhaps greater energy. They have stood with their team, despite seeing the worst years of their team. The joke is rightly said that RCB Fans are the most TRUSTWORTHY as they won’t leave someone. The same goes for me as well and I am proud to be an RCB Fan. Now, just like every year and just like an RCB fan, I would thank my team, wish them all the best and then get ready to cheer for it once again with the slogan…..



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