Royal Challengers Bangalore’s IPL campaign is doomed even before the start of the league. RCB no longer look like natural favourites to win the title. After faltering at the last steps in the 2016 season, the Bengaluru franchise was optimistically looking forward to realising their dream this year. After all losing in the final three times in 9 seasons can make even the sanest ones desperate to get their hands on the coveted trophy.
Unfortunately, their dream seems like quite improbable at the moment. The reason being the elimination of opener KL Rahul and the fitness issues surrounding another two stalwarts – AB de Villiers and Captain Virat Kohli. It is tough to imagine RCB winning games on a consistent basis with this trio. It puts a heavy, irreparable dent on the team line up. In fact, these men represent the core of the RCB batting side.
This brings us to one question. What would be the Royal Challenger Bangalore ‘s starting XI without these names? While there is no chance of Rahul playing this season, Kohli and De Villiers may be available in the latter part of the season. But, who can replace them for the initial part of the tournament? Sportzwiki tries to weigh in the option.
KL Rahul finally was able to come out of the ‘Test specialist’ cocoon and showcase himself as an all-weather batsman. Inspired by Kohli, the Karnataka star, at times, batted as efficiently as his skipper himself. Later, a superb year with the national team followed.
RCB could have easily boasted of having a proven world class batsman as their opener this season. Fans were also bullish about him this season. Unfortunately, the toll of the lengthy international action took on the cricketer and a shoulder injury ruled him out of the entire. Rahul’s absence is a setback is manageable to some extent with a ready option available in the squad to replace him as the opener. Mandeep Singh, the Punjab batsman, has been a top order batsman right from the start of his cricketing career and experimenting with him may give positive results.
Rahul’s ouster came just a couple of days ago but there was another worry due to which RCB think tank was sweating anxiously – Virat Kohli’s availability. The doubts surrounding Kohli is doing rounds ever since the 28-year-old had bad fall on his right shoulder during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the 3rd Test at Ranchi which subsequently led him to be ruled out of the 4th Test at Dharamsala.
There was no clear picture of his recovery after the culmination of the series and the franchise is eagerly awaiting the report from BCCI. If proven unfit, (no points for guesses) RCB certainly lose their favourites tag, at least at the start of the tournament.
The fact that Kohli steered his team to the finals all on his own after being on the brink of a first-round elimination speaks for the value of his presence in the team.
Well, Kohli’s absence means RCB will need a class batsman and an able leader. AB de Villiers was the first name to pop up in the mind but that’s a difficult to imagine now.
The only other option in the present squad who can do both the jobs at once is Australia’s all-rounder Shane Watson.
RCB was still harbouring hopes as they Proteas maverick AB de Villiers appeared as the best option to fill Kohli place both as the batsman and leader. But, the misery refused to end as Cricket South Africa’s official website announced that De Villiers would be sitting out of the final of the Momentum One Day Cup domestic 50-overs meet in South Africa due to back pain.
Well, you cannot name a replacement for a freak like him. But, as far as quick scoring is concerned, Australia’s Travis Head seems perfect. He had a hot and cold debut season last year but has a strong reputation back home in Australia.
Take a look at the Royal Challengers Bangalore predicted XI:
2. KL Rahul/Mandeep Singh
3. Virat Kohli/Shane Watson (C)
4. AB de Villiers/ Travis Head
5. Sarfaraz Khan
6. Sachin Baby
7. Kedar Jadhav (WK)
8. Yuzvendra Chahal
9. Harshal Patel
10. Sreenath Arvind
11. Tymal Mills