So near yet so far. This aptly describes Royal Challengers Bangalore's (RCB) journey in the past 10 editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL). RCB were runners-up in 2009, 2011 and 2016 editions and their hard work in those finals was undone by the superiority of the champions in those seasons. Cut to the present, and RCB came into IPL 11 with a lot of fanfare. Led by the India skipper Virat Kohli, this team boasts of an array of talent powerhouses like former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, all-rounders Chris Woakes and Colin de Grandhomme. South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock was also bought by the franchise while explosive SA batsman AB de Villiers and home leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (Right to Match card) were retained by the outfit in the IPL auction.
RCB had the chance to retain India batsman KL Rahul but instead opted to retain Sarfraz Khan for Rs 1.75 crore. Letting go of Chris Gayle and not retaining Rahul have surely cost RCB dear. Kings XI Punjab are definitely reaping the rewards of having these two in their team.
RCB have so far played eight games and won three. They are placed fifth in the IPL points table above Rajasthan Royals.
Kohli has led from the front as he is currently second on the highest run-scorer list with 349 runs in 8 matches. De Villiers has also performed well for them as he has amassed 280 runs in six matches. De Kock hasn't been scoring runs while their middle-order hasn't clicked. Their bowling doesn't reflect their poor run as Umesh Yadav has 11 wickets to his name and is among the leading wicket-takers. Even Woakes (8) and Chahal (7) have wickets to their name.
RCB have a host of individual talents but they all have failed to click when needed. A lot is riding on Kohli's performance and that has to change if RCB needs an upturn in their fortunes.
They have reignited their campaign with a nervy 14-run win over fellow strugglers Mumbai Indians. With that win, RCB still have faint hopes of making the playoffs.
Mumbai Indians (MI), the defending champions, were obvious favourites to clinch a record fourth title but it didn't pan out the way they would have liked. Mumbai were able to keep their core intact in the IPL auction. Skipper Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah were retained by the franchise. MI used their RTM to retain Windies power-hitter Kieron Pollard and also bought overseas fast-bowlers Mustafizur Rahman and Pat Cummins. Krunal Pandya was also added by them through the RTM card for Rs 8.8 crore. Despite retaining the core team, the defending champions seem to be out of sorts in this edition barring their few performances.
Suryakumar Yadav (283 runs in 8 matches) is the only batsman to feature in the list of top ten run-getters this edition. Sharma has failed to translate his starts into big totals. Barring his match-winning knock of 94 runs against RCB, he has failed to get going with the bat.
Mayank Markande has been a revelation for Mumbai with the ball. He has taken 11 wickets in 8 matches at an impressive average of 18.27.
Pollard has been dismal with the bat this season as he has only managed to score 76 runs in 7 matches which is not befitting of a player of his calibre. He has to up his game and get his team over the line in the remaining matches. JP Duminy, Evin Lewis and Hardik Pandya have performed sporadically and they need to change that.
Mumbai have a mountain to climb this season if they want to make the playoffs. They have done it before and their fans will hope for another miracle this season too.