Do RCB meet the criteria of IPL champions?

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen, like other fans and critics, is eager to see how well – or poorly – the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) perform in the 2020 Indian Premier League.

The franchise has been blessed with plenty of international and local starts since the tournament started in 2008. From Indian captain Virat Kohli and South African batsman AB de Villiers to West Indian opener Chris Gayle and Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa – these are just a few examples of RCB’s resources over the years.

But they have never won the IPL. They lost the finals – in 2009, 2011 and 2016. The Deccan Chargers, Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad have effectively taken turns in beating Bangalore in IPL finals.

What KP said

“As ever, Royal Challengers Bangalore are one of the biggest IPL talking points,” Pietersen wrote in a Betway blog.

“They are always the team to watch, mainly because of that partnership between Virat and AB, which we all expect so much from.

“It’s baffling that they underperform so often and that they have never won the tournament. They were my first IPL team and nothing felt like it was wrong when I was there from 2009 to 2010.

“They’ve had amazing players – they even had Gayle there, when he was knocking them all over the park. It’s strange that they haven’t been able to get their hands on that trophy.

“Things might go differently for them this year, with Mike Hesson coming in to work alongside Simon Katich on the coaching staff. They need Hesson to have the Midas touch to get them over the line.

“With Kohli and De Villiers, and now new signing Aaron Finch, everybody knows that RCB can get the runs, but are they going to get the wickets they desperately need?

“Dale Steyn can hopefully get their bowling attack going, alongside Zampa.”

Betway recently centered some analysis around what makes an IPL champion. Intriguingly, the Royal Challengers Bangalore met the most criteria, as detailed in this infographic.

With South African Chris Morris, Australian Josh Philippe, England’s Moeen Ali and other stars from abroad in the mix, too, RCB are quite cosmopolitan. They would have Australian seamer Kane Richardson, too, but he belatedly opted out.

IPL in a bubble

The Chennai Super Kings, meanwhile, lost spinner Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina. England star Jos Buttler will only be able to play for the Rajasthan Royals later in the tournament.

“Other than the players who have featured in England over the last few months, the bubble experience is going to be new for everybody,” added Pietersen, as the tournament commences in the United Arab Emirates – and without spectators as a preventative measure against the spread of the coronavirus.

“Some players have pulled out already and it’s going to be interesting to see whether full squads are still intact by the end of the competition, or whether guys are going to succumb to the pressure of the bubble.

“It’s going to be particularly hard being in Dubai, which is a beautiful place for golf, restaurants, nightlife, beaches and so on. Surviving two months of a high-pressured environment, while trying to do your best on the cricket field, will be grinding.”