Disappointment? Underachievement? What could have been? An era in Royal Challengers Bangalore ended as they exited IPL 2021 after losing the Eliminator to Kolkata Knight Riders. Why era? Virat Kohli has vowed to play for RCB till his last day in the league but he won’t be captaining them from next year onwards. And then there’s the small matter of IPL mega auction expected to be held ahead of the new season when two new teams will make their debuts. RCB, like other seven franchises, won’t be the same with all teams aiming towards rebuilding and relaunching their campaigns as several players will be released and only few will be retained (subject to the rules).
So was IPL 14 RCB’s best chance to win the title? Yes and no. Why yes? Well, the team was well-balanced. They had a proven performer for every position of each department. Kohli had Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers and Devdutt Padikkal for company in the batting order. And Harshal Patel, the purple cap holder, had Mohammed Siraj, Kyle Jamieson and a host of other options. The spin department was manned by the ever-dependable Yuzvendra Chahal who had some help in Maxwell and Shahbaz Ahmed.
The fact that they won five of their seven matches during the India leg spoke volumes of their title challenge. But then things changed. And for the second season in a row, they ended up exiting in the Eliminator.
The change in venue brought with itself different set of challenges to which RCB eventually adjusted to and made the cut for the playoffs on a confident note. It was mostly a successful season for them but then a team brimming with superstars won’t call it a success unless they have a title to show for it. Isn’t it?
IPL 2021 Record: Played: 15; Won: 9; Lost: 6; Standing: 4th
Through the season, RCB registered dominating wins over the powerhouses including Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals. However, their run during the India leg was their high point of the season during which they were quite consistent and firing on all cylinders. They got the better of DC – the table toppers- both the times during the season. And then there was that contest against MI where Harshal took a hat-trick when as won by 54 runs.
Their first match of the UAE leg against Kolkata Knight Riders. RCB were skittled for 92 and the target was overhauled by their opponent in 10 overs for the loss of one wicket. This happened just after Kohli announced his intention to step away from captaincy from next season. Rumors started doing the rounds that the batting superstar may be relieved of the duty mid-season should the sorry show continue.
Actually, Kohli was quite impressive. He took the lead by opening the innings despite no. 3 being his preferred slot and performed admirably. Obviously, he wasn’t anyway close to the unreal season in 2016 when he belted 900-plus runs. More often than not, his bowling changes proved to be a success and field placings were smart. Could he have not waited for the season to end before dropping the captaincy bomb? Sure. But did that impact their performance? That’s anybody’s guess.
Most Valuable Player
Harshal Patel. By miles. Barring that freak over when Ravindra Jadeja took him to cleaners, Harshal brought RCB wickets nearly every time he was introduced into the attack. He finished with 32 wickets – equaling the record for the most by a bowler in a single season. And a hat-trick against defending champions MI was cherry on top.
Dan Christian. The Australian allrounder came with the reputation of having won leagues everywhere he was played across the globe. And not because he’s a lucky charm for teams. He contributed for them – with the bat, ball and in the field. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do that for RCB. In 9 matches, Christian scored 14 runs and managed four wickets.
Another lost opportunity. They looked like a well-oiled machine during the first half of the season but the next half, looked like a team that was punching above its weight when it shouldn’t have been the case. They lost the momentum and it took some outstanding individual performances to assure them of a playoffs berth.
- Most runs: Glenn Maxwell (513)
- Most wickets: Harshal Patel (32)
- Highest individual score: Devdutt Padikkal (101*)
- Best Bowling Figures: Harshal Patel (5/27)