Virat Kohli’s RCB have enjoyed a dream first half of the IPL
with five wins in seven games that has taken them to 3rd in the points table
behind the Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings. Bangalore have been the
perennial underachievers in the Indian Premier League, but after a strong start
in phase one of the competition, this could be the year where RCB and Virat
Kohli finally break their drought.
RCB got off to a flying start to IPL 2021 with a last gasp
victory over the Mumbai Indians in the season opener, before comfortably
winning their next three games on the bounce thanks to some extraordinary
performances with the bat from Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers and Devdutt
Virat Kohli’s side eventually suffered their first defeat of
the season at the hands of Ravindra Jadeja and the Chennai Super Kings but
bounced back promptly in Ahmedabad with a one-run victory over the Delhi
Capitals. However, the season ended on a sour note for Bangalore with a 34-run
defeat to the Punjab Kings before the tournaments’ suspension.
RCB invested heavily in Glenn Maxwell during the auction and
so far, that has paid dividends, with Maxwell topping RCB’s run-scoring charts
in phase one of the 2021 IPL ahead of the likes of Kohli and De Villiers.
Maxwell notched 223 runs in the first half of the tournament at a healthy
strike rate of 144, and his dominance of the spinners in the middle overs has
proven to be incredibly valuable for the team.
Biggest area of concern
Despite playing three games in the spin-friendly conditions
at the Chepauk, it was a first-half of the campaign to forget for RCB’s premier
spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg-spinner picked up only four wickets in seven
games for the franchise at an economy rate of 8.26, and this poor run of form
could have played a part in Chahal’s unfortunate omission from India’s ICC T20
World Cup squad.
There are plenty of fresh faces in the RCB squad for the
second half of the campaign, with four foreigners in the original squad
replaced for the UAE leg. Singaporean-born batsman Tim David has been brought
in place of New Zealand’s Finn Allen while English left-armer George Garton
replaces Kane Richardson. RCB have also added the Sri Lankan duo of Wanindu
Hasaranga and Dushmantha Chameera for Adam Zampa and Daniel Sams – after both
players impressed in India’s recent white-ball tour of Sri Lanka.
Washington Sundar has also been ruled out of the tournament
due to injury and is replaced in the squad by medium-pacer Akash Deep.
Probable XI: Virat Kohli, Devdutt
Padikkal, Rajat Patidar, Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers, Shahbaz Ahmed, Wanindu
Hasaranga, Kyle Jamieson, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal