Over the years, Kohli has come into the IPL either on the back of a demanding international assignment, or with a forthcoming series on his mind. But this season might well be a game-changer for the Indian skipper and his men.
As always, they start the season with enormous expectations but unlike in the past few seasons, they seem to have addressed key issues that have plagued the team previously. With Mike Hesson, the director of cricket operations, hinting that AB de Villiers may keep wickets, Kohli could have the option of playing an extra batsman to strengthen the misfiring lower middle-order.
Chris Morris may, to some extent, tide over the perennial bugbear of bowling at the death. Pacer Navdeep Saini’s international exploits, coupled with bigger stadiums in the UAE, may augur well for Kohli and his men in their bid for another shot at the elusive trophy.
Since Virat took over as captain…
2013: Kohli took over from Vettori but RCB failed to make the playoffs despite Chris Gayle’s red-hot form. Three defeats in their last five matches cost them a play-off place. Finished fifth.
2014: Managed just five wins from 14 games. Their most expensive indulgence of the season, Yuvraj Singh, failed. Both Kohli and AB de Villiers flopped. Finished seventh.
2015: Stop-start affair, but they found the mojo in time. De Villiers, Kohli and Gayle did the job with the bat, while Yuzvendra Chahal (23 wickets) was the standout performer with the ball. Lost to CSK in qualifier 2. Finished third.
2016: Staged a remarkable comeback in the latter stages to make the final. RCB’s title hopes against Sunrisers at Chinnaswamy were undone by a stunning collapse. There were many positives from the season, including Kohli (973) emerging as the highest run-getter. Finished Runner’s up.
2017: A season to forget with just three wins. Finished last.
2018: Season of bizarre decisions, starting with questionable retentions. Spent big on unutilized talent. The appointment of Gary Kirsten and Ashish Nehra as batting and bowling coaches respectively did not work. Finished sixth.
2019: The franchise went in for a makeover, doing away with the concept of chief coach and replacing it with a non-pyramid coaching structure. They chopped and changed during the auction as well. Nothing worked. Finished last.
Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. (Photo courtesy: RCB Twitter handle)
TOI RCB likely XI: Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Umesh Yadav