If you had to pick a side to bat for your life, it would have to be Royal Challengers Bangalore. A perfect blend of textbook shots and power hitting, everyone touted RCB as a potential champion provided, their bowlers turned up. Easily, the best fielding side in this IPL, they were perfectly placed to go all the way this time.
A star studded batting lineup comprising of Christopher Henry Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Shane Watson and KL Rahul was a nightmare for bowlers of any team. But, on the other hand, their bowling resources were severely depleted due to the absence of the imperious Starc and Badree, the No.1 T20 bowler in the world.
The weakness was highlighted in the initial stages of IPL 2016, when RCB lost matches even after posting 200+ totals on the board. Their bowling lacked the bite required at the start of an innings and consistent accuracy in the death overs which cost them dearly. They won just 4 out of their first 10 matches and were placed 7th in the points table with a condition of winning every match in order to qualify.
What followed was akin to a phoenix rising from the ashes. RCB thrashed newbies Gujarat Lions by 144 runs in a dominating and mesmerizing display of batsmanship from skipper Virat Kohli and the Superman, AB de Villiers. This big victory not only erased their negative NRR but also gave their campaign, the much needed momentum. They went on to defeat KKR, KXIP and DD to complete a fairytale resurgence to second place in the points table.
Luck was on their side in the first Qualifier as they successfully chased down a target of 159 with the help of ABD and Abdulla which in itself was astonishing as they were tottering at 29/5 at one stage.
RCB’s astounding run ended in the finals where they were heartbreakingly undone by the best bowling attack of IPL 2016, Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Like it or not, RCB reached the finals due to the heroics of their batsmen. Their ability to tee off in the death overs helped them greatly but it was their bowlers who let them down. Apart from Chahal and Watson, no one did well consistently. Even though, Watson was the villain for RCB in the final, one cannot forget his contribution.
Personally, I believe that RCB would be tough to beat when they will, hopefully, see the return of Starc and Badree as then it would be a complete team. Also, they should try to get a specialist wicketkeeper as Rahul’s occasional mistakes could be fatal to the team’s chances of winning next year. But, if he can improve on his skills, he could increase his value in the team.
In the end, as always, I will pick my best players from this team.
Best Batsman – Undoubtedly, Virat Kohli (973 runs from 16 matches)
Best Bowler – Yuzvendra Chahal (21 wickets from 13 matches)
Best Fielder – AB de Villiers (19 catches from 16 matches)