IPL 2021: Will Royal Challengers Bangalore's over-reliance on Virat and de Villiers come to an end?
All that glitters may not well be gold; an in-depth look at RCB's chances in IPL 2021.
Whopping sums of money spent on some of the biggest superstars in the sport, arguably the greatest batsman of this generation leading the side from the front, glitz and glam of the entire industry behind them and a plethora of passionate fans haven't been able to inspire Royal Challengers Bangalore to an IPL victory despite several near attempts.
Brilliant with just the right pinch of brash on their day, dismal and disastrous when things don't go their way, RCB have scaled all but the highest heights of the IPL and have seen some of the lowest lows.
'Ee sala cup naamde' their fans believe and much of that borderline religious belief rests on the weights of the two cricket deities in the squad: Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers.
But as RCB have found out quite too often, two men cannot deliver an entire tournament all by themselves, especially when the squad around them keeps shuffling so often.
We take a look at whether Royal Challengers Bangalore can genuinely mount a challenge for the title in IPL 2021 or end up making the same mistakes all over again.
What are RCB's strengths ahead of IPL 2021?
A batting lineup that looks almost invincible on paper
With Devdutt Padikkal bursting on to the scene last season in the UAE, much of Royal Challengers Bangalore's top-order woes were solved.
With Aaron Finch failing to get going in IPL 2020 and now released, the search to find the Karnataka lad a suitable ally has driven RCB to Captain Kohli's doorstep.
Mohammad Azharuddeen was in sensational form during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and New Zealand's Finn Allen is yet another excellent attacking option that the management can explore.
AB De Villiers continues to age like fine wine, bringing much-needed reliability to the side while Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Christian, Sachin Baby, and Washington Sundar add both firepower and depth.
A vicious spin department
While lead spinner Yuzvendra Chahal hasn't been at his best over the last few months, he has a proven track record in the league and would be aiming to make the most of the turning tracks in Chennai and Ahmedabad.
He'll be well supported by Washington Sundar whose utilization during the Powerplay has proven to be a trump card for Kohli.
Australian leg-spin bowler Adam Zampa is ranked sixth in ICC's T20 bowler rankings and Glenn Maxwell can also end up providing them with breakthroughs when needed.
What is RCB's weakness ahead of IPL 2021?
A listless pace-department
Royal Challengers Bangalore's primary point of concern this season could end up being their largely inexperienced pace battery.
Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj, though promising options, lack the experience of bowling in tight situations in white-ball cricket and often end up conceding plenty of runs.
While the franchise did spend plenty of bucks on Kyle Jamieson at the IPL 2021 Auction, he doesn't have the best of CVs in T20 cricket and has hardly any experience of playing on Indian pitches.
The Australian trio of Daniel Sams, Daniel Christian and Kane Richardson also do not inspire the kind of confidence that some of the other premier overseas fast-bowlers in the tournament do.
What is RCB's opportunity ahead of IPL 2021?
The Virat Kohli opening experiment
The idea first came to the surface during the T20 series against England, when the Indian skipper decided to open the innings with Rohit Sharma in order to try and test a different combination ahead of the all-important T20 World Cup later in the year.
Thanks to a 94-run opening stand from the two stalwarts, India was able to post a total of 224 and ended up winning the final T20 by 36 runs and clinching the series.
During the post-match presentation, Virat Kohli confirmed that he'll try the 'open-the-innings' formula during IPL 2021.
And if the skipper is able to set the tempo at the top of the order with the help of Devdutt Padikkal, the likes of AB De Villiers, Glenn Maxwell and even Sachin Baby and Mohammad Azharuddeen will be left with a much easier job at the back end of the innings.
What is RCB's threat ahead of IPL 2021?
The decision to bring a floundering Glenn Maxwell to RCB by spending a whopping INR 14.25 crore pretty much sums up the franchise's desperate auction plans.
The decision to spend big on overseas superstars instead of focusing on building a solid Indian core has hurt Royal Challengers Bangalore in the past as well and it won't be surprising if the script repeats itself in IPL 2021.
For all his heroics with the bat on the international stage, it has been a long time since Glenn Maxwell last had a successful IPL season.
If he ends up failing this year, the responsibilities to deliver will once again fall on Kohli and AB's shoulders and we've seen that film far too often to know how it ends.
Much like the years before, Royal Challengers Bangalore do have the necessary means to succeed and mount a strong title-winning campaign.
However, the constant flux that their squad undergoes pretty much every other season and the obvious glaring holes left by the absence of a formidable pacer will be their biggest challenges to overcome this season.
That said, this could well prove to be a season where Virat Kohli and co bet more on the process than the results.