Best finish — Finalist (2009, 2011, 2016)
Last season — Fourth
Royal Challengers Bangalore is yet to win an IPL crown, but its three back-to-back playoffs appearances inspire confidence. RCB, the second-most-expensive franchise in 2008, has a very loyal fan base.
Strengths: RCB had been a top-heavy batting team for a while, with the bulk of its runs coming from the troika of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and A. B. de Villiers. But this imbalance was addressed at the mega auction in February last year when RCB brains trust invested in Indian domestic players like Mahipal Lomror, Shahbaz Ahmed, Rajat Patidar and Anuj Rawat to add heft to the batting. Dinesh Karthik’s mesmerising 360-degree game adds firepower lower down and while the consistency of a finisher is volatile, Karthik’s flamboyance does take the pressure off the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Kohli.
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Weaknesses: RCB was involved in fierce bidding wars for overseas fast-bowling all-rounders Sam Curran, Cameron Green and Ben Stokes but couldn’t sign even one of them. The team lacks proven Indian fast bowlers who can win matches with the bat.
Faf du Plessis (captain): Royal Challengers Bangalore shelled out a handsome Rs. 7 crore to acquire du Plessis, who was subsequently appointed as captain for IPL 2022. It was the first time the former South African skipper had been handed leadership duties of an IPL side. The flamboyant right-hander is a four-time IPL winner with the Chennai Super Kings, and his 633 runs were crucial to CSK’s title-winning run in 2021. In his first year as skipper, du Plessis led RCB to the IPL 2022 playoffs, where it lost to Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 2. To add to his captaincy creds and reliable batting, du Plessis is also an outstanding fielder.
Best Indian player - Virat Kohli: Kohli has represented RCB since the first season of the IPL in 2008. Kohli became the regular captain of Royal Challengers in 2013; his best season was in 2016 when he not only won the orange cap for the most runs (973) but also helped the team reach the final, where it lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad. He led RCB in 140 matches, won 64, and lost 69. He has the third most IPL matches as captain, behind M. S. Dhoni and Rohit Sharma. Kohli has been in fine T20 form lately, having gone past Mahela Jayawardene’s mark for the most runs in men’s T20 World Cup history last year. He was also the tournament’s highest run-getter, with 296 runs in six innings at a staggering average of just under 100. Although Kohli has blown hot and cold in RCB colours of late, he continues to be its linchpin in the batting order.
Best overseas player -Wanindu Hasaranga: In IPL 2022, wristspinners claimed 141 wickets across 74 matches, the second-most for the leggies in an IPL edition, and legspin-bowling allrounder Hasaranga was one of the standout performers. He was, in fact, mercurial in the middle overs, snapping up the joint-highest number of wickets (20) between overs 7 and 16 at an economy rate of under eight. He was also the second-highest wicket-taker (26). The Chinnaswamy Stadium is known for being batter-friendly thanks to small boundaries and a flat pitch, and the Royal Challengers’ bowlers never really made the kind of impact their batters’ have at the venue. Hence it’ll be interesting to see how Hasaranga goes there. The mystery of Hasaranga’s googly is yet to be solved by many a batter. His bowling, allied with a solid batting record make him a premium asset. His workload will also be monitored closely. In February, Hasaranga was ruled out of the Pakistan Super League as Sri Lanka looked to manage his fitness. It was the second time in less than 12 months that Hasaranga had pulled out of a franchise league, having withdrawn from his Hundred contract with Manchester Originals earlier.
Best uncapped player -Rajat Patidar: In February 2022, Patidar went unsold at the IPL auction before making it to the squad as a replacement for the injured Luvnith Sisodia. He went on to become the first uncapped Indian to hit a century in a playoff game at the Eden Gardens against Lucknow Super Giants. It was followed by a fifty in Qualifier-2 against Rajasthan Royals as he finished the season with 333 runs at a strike rate of over 150. In October last year, Patidar was rewarded for his purple patch with a maiden India call-up for the three-match ODI series versus South Africa.